The kids and I took and impromptu trip to Color Me Mine today to choose and paint some pottery. This trip counted as an art project for the two boys who are currently homeschooled and a fun diversion for my daughter. She is enrolled in an alternative school for gifted kids. The school is not in session most Fridays which gives us a great deal of flexibility to go on field trips and take advantage of other learning opportunities. (More on the kids and what I’ve learned about various school options in later posts.)
Color Me Mine is a pottery painting and glazing shop. You pick your piece of pottery and then grab a table and paint glaze on your piece using their supplies. The cost is the price of the pottery you selected plus a studio fee for the paint and the use of the brushes, stamps etc.
It took us about 20 minutes to select the perfect pieces of potter. Natalie selected a flower-shaped box, Nicolas went with a rabbit storage container, Nathaniel chose a frog mug, and I choose a dog mug. We then settled down to painting. The staff was great about stepping in with ideas and help, especially for Nicolas who really wanted his rabbit to be perfect. The glazes are all watercolor so it is fairly easy to use a sponge and water to wipe off mistakes and start again.
We were there around three hours. Long enough to see another family come, paint, and go. The kids really didn’t want to leave. Watching the kids paint it was obvious why some typical elementary art projects frustrate them. Clearly they wanted to take their time. Elementary schools rarely have a full hour to devote to an art project, much less three hours. This can cause stress for gifted kids that may naturally have longer attention spans. Add in their desire to have the finished product flaw free and professional-looking and you have a perfect recipe for “transition problems” and emotional meltdowns.
They wanted their creations to fully reflect their visions. If they were told how each piece should look when done it would have greatly diminished their creative spirits and enjoyment of the project. Walk through any elementary school and look at the art on the walls, especially for the younger grades. Notice the similarity of the pieces. Because art is used to teach everything from colors to cutting skills to how to follow directions, kids are told exactly how to do most projects and what they should look like when finished. For kids with strong, internal, artistic sensibilities and drives, typical elementary art projects must feel stifling.
Today the kids got to take their time and act in accordance with their own creative visions. Of course, they won’t really know how close they came to the images in their heads for another week. Our pieces need to dry, get dipped in clear glaze, dry again, and finally get fired in the kiln for a day. Once the pieces cool we will be able to to take them home. Stay tuned to see the end results.