Yesterday the children worked with Marjon and a new artist, Dandee Warhol, in the multimedia art class! In this particular project, the students were completing an observational, still life drawing of an orange using oil pastel. In order to complete the still life drawing, the children had to study and sketch the proportions, dimensions, values, perspective, light, and shadow. Often times, children can recognize an orange as a round and orange fruit, however in order to represent that orange on a piece of paper, they had to take into consideration what the orange looked like from where they were sitting (is the orange a perfect circle or an oval? Does one half of the orange look smaller than the other? Why is that?), the different shades of orange throughout the composition (is the orange peel lighter or darker than the fruit inside? How do you represent the inside of the orange peel, the ring around the fruit? Is that a lighter value of the color orange or a darker value of the color yellow?), and where the light and shadow was falling on the orange (is the shadow in a circle shape as well? How do you represent light?).
A core component in the Reggio Emilia approach is learning through art and representing knowledge through art. Graphic arts are heavily integrated into the program not to produce artists or make sure the children can draw a horse, but to demonstrate the cognitive, social and language development in a different way. The children need to demonstrate their knowledge in various ways to allow them to be active learners and learn with all of their senses, including action and thought. During art creation, children are provided with a unique opportunity to learn privately or in groups, have open discussions about the project, and explore any concept they want. An example of how this works is the discussion that occurred during this art project. While we talked about shadow, light, perspective, and proportions, we also discussed where oranges come from, how they grow, what we use them for, other foods of the same color, other foods of the same shape, and more. Simple art projects like this also introduce concepts of geometry (the area of mathematics that involves using shape, size, position, direction and movement to describe and classify objects in the physical world), pattern (an arrangement of objects, numbers, or shapes that repeats itself and can be extended), and spatial awareness (the ability of children to think of themselves or objects in relation to the people and objects around them). Moreover, art is a process for children, not a product. While the images above are beautiful representations of the still life piece, we are more interested in their journey to create this piece of art and how the concepts they learned will help them when it comes to science, mathematics, reading and writing!