ART | Art class for preschoolers : TREE (2)

After we had studied a lot of trees and gained enough confidence in drawing lines, creative flowed naturally. Then it was time to make art, applying those lines into creative work. In this term each artist had 2 master pieces. First piece was a deconstructed version of tree. We played with dots and continuation of lines, starting from small dots which represented seeds at the bottom of paper and bigger dots scattering on the upper part of the work representing fruits of this imagined tree. Then our young artists need to connect those dots – from seeds to fruits – with lines. Many lines from many seeds travelled up to form a patch of dense lines which turned to be a trunk. Those lines travelled apart from each other again to form many branches of the tree. They were intertwining, weaving, and criss-crossing with each other. They travelled up to the top part of paper to encircles the bigger dots which were fruits of the trees. Eventually, a clear image of imagined tree was revealed.

The second work, we invited kids to see what was inside the trunk. They were inspired by beautiful pictures of those year rings. A very curved line formed a circle, and bigger circle encircling the smaller one inside and so one. The most challenging part was that each line was parallel with the one next to it. This is about focus and control. The rings kept expanding until space on the rectangular drawing block was not enough and some parts of the out rings could not be seen as they could not fit in the paper. This concept was a huge thing for kids to learn. They learned that things which could not be seen did not mean they were disappeared. In addition, for older kids in the class, they learned about space as they needed to be a able to see the lines continuing even though they disappeared from the paper. In a way, they started to learn the concept of ‘cropping’. What’s more, for both younger and older kids, they saw that the shape of the rings, even though they tried to keep them parallel to the inside ring, transformed. Lines, when being conditioned with change of size or space, had their own journey and momentum. Nothing should be perfect in a world of creative art. Things evolve, develop, and change. Artists are not the ones who can control everything, but the ones who accept whatever happen and continue creating from them.

And from the photos they saw, some also saw smaller lines between the rings going perpendicular with the ring itself. Then they started to draw small lines between the rings and we agreed to develop on that idea. As a result, they had options to draw small lines between the rings or color in that space instead. The most beautiful part of this work was reserved for small dots which were to be added between tow rings the last. The idea was from a part of trees called xylem. It is a type of transport tissue in plants. The young artists apply white glue on paper in the space between the chosen two rings, then sprinkle cut out dots (prepared by teachers using a hold punchers) on the rule. With the glimpse of spontaneity and confidence plus combination of colors carefully picked by themselves, the artwork came out very stunning. It was such a beautiful work made out of simple things – just dots and lines.

It was such an enriching term. The value of not rushing through the process to force artwork to be prematurely born showed its outcome beautifully. It was our distinctive point that we prefer to walk through process of art making slowly from the beginning – from gathering experiences, translating onto paper, and transforming all creative marks into artwork – for the little artists to understand and be innately and daringly creative when they were to make art in the future. Most important part we learnt throng this journey was the learning how to appreciate beauty of simple things in everyday life which laid foundation of a positive and creative way of thinking throughout there life. 

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ART | Art class for preschoolers : TREE (1)

Art nurtures soul. Most of us know that, but only some of us give importance to an art class. It is true that early childhood kids are naturally interested in art. They enjoy scribbling, coloring and drawing. They are full of imagination but, sadly, it slowly fades away when they grow up and enroll to a school. Formal education does not allow enough time for this gift from nature to grow. Art call for preschoolers tries its best to keep this creative seed alive and to provide room for it to grow strong in adulthood’s wind.

Each term covers 8 sessions which focuses on different particular theme. For this term we talked about trees. By this I did not mean that we asked students to sketch trees as how we saw them. Rather, we had trees as a main source of inspiration for our art work, studying them through process of art making. There are still very few experiences in their lives to cognitively process conceptual idea. As a result, first-handed experiences are crucial for this age group. They learn best by seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, sensing them in a way most appropriate.

The whole trees were deconstructed into simpler forms which are easier for kids to appreciate. The whole class went out to our garden to look at real trees. They could go to the trees as close as they wanted, touching or hugging them. They were encouraged by teachers to follow the tree trunk and branches with their hands drawing in the air following the contour of the trees. They were told to look up and observe curve and criss-cross lines of branches, strong thick lines of trunks, small dots of leaves and beautiful color of flowers. Apart from observing the trees in the arts center’s garden, kids also had a chance to see photos of trees from other parts of the world. From real trees and photos of trees, we saw straight lines, curve lines, wavy lines, and zig-zag lines. Some lines were short, while some lines were long. Some were thick, and some were thin.

The next learning process is to translate all those lines onto paper. It was the most difficult part out of the whole process. The young artists tried drawing many kinds of lines, thick and thin, long and short, straight and curve, curly and wavy. They tried on different kinds of paper, different sizes, different textures, and different colors, using various tools and mediums. Actually this was a process of sharping their skill which could be tedious but with a sense of a playful experiment together with story telling, kids were engaged throughout. We spent a few sessions for this practice and at the end of the terms, each student had quite a number of different paper with many kinds of lines on them, including big mahjong paper which was bigger than kids themselves. It is a collection of lines of each individual not just practicing paper. You can think of these lines as alphabets. To be able to make words, you need to know the alphabets first. Similarly, to make art works, it is easier if you have some collection of lines ready to be used.

Next blog I will show you how the young artists put together their artistic mark making to turn them into artwork.

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The ‘OTHER’ Me project | the starting question(s)

I start this blog because I want to talk about one thing. It is the dance piece called The ‘OTHER’ Me.

Things started last year – January 2013. I was in Amsterdam waiting for an audition result from Emico Greco | PC company. I was not cut out during the day so that meant I had hope, but it was the kind of hope that could push me down on my knee anytime.

I first attended that audition with only one hope which was not being cut out on the first cut of the day. But I did not know then that I actually could survive until the day ended. What’s more, one of the company dancers came to me and whispered .. you, maybe! But it was true that he might say that to everyone who managed to stay until the end of the day. I told myself that was more than enough. But when the dream is so closed to the truth, who can stand not seeing it coming true? That was what happened to me because I started to dream of starting my life in Amsterdam, dancing with the company which I really liked, making my parents be proud of me, letting my juniors in my countries see that we can do it if we really really try and it went on and on and on. However, the dream was still a dream, and I was still in a vacuum waiting for the result. I didn’t know what to do or what my plan should be. I really didn’t know what to do, to feel good or not to feel good. I had hope andI tried to get rid of that hope. It was so tiring.

I finally started to cry. It was from the feeling of losing your momentum which kept you going somewhere. It was too still and I couldn’t move myself. I was in a rut and had no one to turn to. I was alone in the room in the city I knew no one and it was freezing cold. I didn’t feel homesick but I damn missed my ex-best friend who was not best anymore. I cried because I wished someone was there with me, talked to me and I hoped it was him. We used to discuss a lot of things together. We used to say we would pursue our dreams and we would fight for it together. Sadly, we ended up fighting. I let myself cry because I had no strength to hold it. I knew that it was just a big drama in my life but I let myself sink into it.

I opened my calendar book and wished someone would be there to help me plan, someone who I could really count on and would never leave me in both happy and not so happy moments in life. My eyes looked at the calendar. Almost two weeks had passed. I had visited three cities; from Geneva to Berlin by plane, and from Berlin to Amsterdam by train. My handwriting in pencil on the calendar told me that next stop should be Luxembourg. Right, another audition was coming. Oh, Mimie come on!

I used the handphone to check what was the best and cheapest way to go to Luxembourg. The cheapest way was by train with 4 train changes. I had 15 kg luggage with me and I thought I could manage it. Thank God I decided not bringing laptop and camera along this time cause I knew I would have to travel around quite a lot. At least then I had plan for the next day that I needed to go to the train station and book the ticket. I was not so lost anymore. Before I knew it, I had stopped crying already.

It is difficult for me to explain my feeling then in words. It was a wonderful moment in my life. I felt so full of love for myself. How could I forget her? How could I forget ‘this’ best friend who I really could count on and who would never leave me alone? How can I forget the one who helped me plan everything, and discussed with me what to bring and not to bring? It was her who was with me all the time during the audition and kept telling me to calm down and everything would be okay. I ALWAYS had best friend with me all the time. Really!

That was the starting point. I did not get a job in that company in the end but that was okay. I came back to Singapore and continued living my happy life as a dancer in the same contemporary dance company. After that I enjoyed observing my self-talk and even looked back to my past. I found out a long and continuing love-hate friendship between me and myself. We discussed. We agreed. We disagreed. We fought but we always found the solutions.

Series of questions came up.

If I can fight with myself, does it mean that myself is not me? Can I call it the other me or me(s)? Then, how many me(s) can I have? Those questions made me wonder more. Are we human one-soul being? How many souls can one man possess? What kinds of relationship we have with our own self or selves? And which self is the major one in a particular time and why?

The questions kept coming and I couldn’t not do anything, so I decided to translate my question into a dance piece and dig deeper into the questions along the dance making process. If you are the one who is also asking the same questions or get interested in the story I just told you, please come join me in this journey. I will share with you how the idea develop and how the questions reveal the answers by asking the next questions and translate into the movements. I still don’t know the end product of this project. But it is like falling in love.

Love can take us to heaven or hell, but it always takes us somewhere. Therefore, be prepared to travel (Paulo Coelho)

(To be continued)