I was working with three groups of preschoolers, some as young as 18 months. I noticed that with the youngest group they place their materials on the painting paper. This did not seem to be a decision based on easier accessibility to materials, but seemingly a reflex and unconscious action that shows no separation of what is and what isn't art. Because the sunflower, which was the theme of the art class, but more I realized later an avenue for me to access their world as they are learning about the flower in preschool, was placed on the paper, it too got painted, and the brushstrokes made room for it. But interestingly the same thing happened when placing the water cup, or watercolor palette on the paper. A sunflower you could label as a multimedia project, but the children seemed to be doing something more. The incorporation of everything around them seemed natural; everything became (for us adults) art the table, their hands, fallen petals, but for the children they already and always were art.
How much adults have to learn from young childrens' art, for they are still so in-tune with that so-called primitive feeling, that lies in us all, albeit often dormant, and which deeply appreciates the importance of the materials. The importance that drove, for example, Indigenous Australian tribesmen across a continent in search of ochers possessing certain sought-after physical and spiritual characteristics.
One young boy has just started painting, and the realization that he has created something is filled with such joy, exuberance, and enthusiasm. He wasn't painting a particular thing, but the movement of the wind as he called it. So excited to see how different paintbrushes create different strokes, and what colors look like on the page, and so happily surprised at the results his spontaneous gestures produce.
And so I wonder of the child's inner life as he or she is painting, and as an educator continually try to preserve this natural feeling...