create (with kids): negative space
Sometimes my independently minded three-year-old gives me the honor of creating a project alongside her. While there are often many directives to follow- "Mama, use that yellow not this one." "Mama, paint something over here."- it's helpful for me to glimpse into how she creates with others. And also gives me a fruitful glimpse into how I create with her. For this artwork she began with glittery hand prints (see more about glittery finger paint, here). Then she asked me to join her...
and I began to paint in the spaces left in-between. She wondered what I was doing, and I explained to her that I was painting in the negative space. I explained her hand prints are positive space, where a picture is. And that the space around the picture is called negative space.
So then she began painting in the negative space too. Painting around the hand prints and in-between the fingers. Adding her own designs to the paint with her fingernails.
Until it was done and ready to be displayed. While I worked alongside her I wondered, Am I really as hands-off as I aspire to be? Do I let her dictate the process and materials? Do I interject words where there should be silence, a sentence when only a word or two is needed? The same questions that usually go through my mind as I watched her little hands move across the paper. Questions that continue to help me grow as a teacher, and as a Mama too.
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