Summer Art Camp

Schools are closed for July and August where I live. I work at the College doing summer day programs of arts & crafts with kids.

This is what I'd like to be doing year round, in my own art school/studio/gallery. Need like a million dollars, seems impossible, but I still wish it.

The biggest difference is class size. Having groups of less than twelve children means that I am able to really focus on my students, give them more open-ended creative and explorative projects, spend time talking about their projects with them, and help them problem solve. This does not work once you see 20 or 30 or more kids in a group. The lessons are simplified to be accessible to the weaker students, because most will be teaching themselves while the teacher is busy repeating instructions. The talented students often get little attention because they've caught on to the idea and the people struggling need the guidance more urgently. Small groups though, I am mentoring each one.

I am thinking about making a book (or maybe a blog) about art lessons with kids. I have some great photos from over the several years I've done art camp. I'd have to use photos without faces because the forms the parents sign to photograph their children only cover consent to the college and the newspaper. I'm not sure what programs I'd need on the computer to lay out that kind of thing, if I went traditional publishing route. In addition to the lesson plans and photography, I'd like to add memories, and descriptions of how each lesson creates different results depending on the imagination of the children.

Every now and then I meet a student that I immediately know has True Talent. Yes, everyone can be an artist. Art skills can be learned and improved. If you can write the alphabet you have basic drawing skills. I tell all my students their work is awesome. "I love the colours you chose!" "This technique is working really well!" type of thing. But some kids really impress the socks off me and that happened today. I can't wait to see her final project, it might be better than the example I made!

At snack break she sat on a couch in one of the student lounges on campus. She put up her feet on the upholstery and I said, "Hey! Would you put your shoes on your couch at home? What would your mom say?" In a joking, conversational tone of voice, not punitive. She very quietly looked toward the windows, and after a pause, moved her feet to the floor and said softly, "my mom died."

It made me think about the connection between artists and adversity, and how she will create with real emotion and darkness and hardship most kids haven't experienced. I wonder if that unspeakable tragedy had to happen to her so the world will have her beautiful expressive art. Or maybe it was just a fluke project, the majority of her work is not adult level, and she said she was orphan because she thought it would be funny. Who knows?


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