Thursday, September 23, 2010

You, Me & Art: Guest Blogger Chrissie DiAngelus shares her experience

Hey everyone! I just finished participating in a You & Me Play date and it was awesome! In my class was my friend Chrissie and her son Mitch. I asked her all about her experience and here's what she said:

Pinky: How old is Mitch?

Chrissie: Mitch is two years old!

Pinky: What kinds of things did you and Mitch make together in art class?

Chrissie: Mommy and Mitch made some terrific pieces during our You, Me & Art classes. Mitch experimented with interesting paint brushes and paint tools such as a toothbrush as well as bright neon paints, resulting in very cool abstract creations. Mommy helped Mitch understand the gooey and sticky texture of glue when we explored the different textures of pom-poms, paper, and foam. Mitch loves the color orange and enjoyed using the orange marker to decorate a canvas bag and a beach ball.

Pinky: What were some of your favorite parts about the class? What activities did Mitch really enjoy?

Chrissie: One of my favorite things about the classes was seeing how simple Please Touch Museum (PTM) made art. I’ve had Mitch using watercolors and paints since he was 17 months but as a visual artist myself, I often unintentionally complicate things. I wonder, “Where’s the palette?” “Oh no, he doesn’t have any white gauche.” “He needs a flat brush.” My college level classes are a blessing and a curse! I love seeing how an egg carton gets recycled as a palette or how kids can use everyday objects to create textures or how a cookie tray can be used as an easel.

Mitch’s favorite activities were hands down the two painting projects – the painting with interesting textured tools and the Jackson Pollock drip painting. He’s like his mom – if he can stand over it and throw down and create a masterpiece, he’s in heaven. He was totally in his element and we wound up with the coolest, most abstract paintings that are now hanging in his room.

Pinky: When you are at home and getting creative- what is Mitch's favorite art activity?

Chrissie: We’ve tried so much – Play-Doh, paints, crayons, glue. Mitch is really open to trying new media (materials) and methods so I try to mix it up. Painting is his favorite. The mixing and the water elements hold his attention. We also use a lot of stickers and different colored and textured papers and just play.We use paint brushes, sponges, and interesting objects to make a shape or texture, and we make a lot of monoprints. My sister bought him a portfolio so I save almost all his work. The really abstract ones I frame.

Pinky: Art can be messy- how do you as a parent remain calm through some of the mess?

Chrissie: My mentality is – It’s supposed to be a mess. Mess = fun. It all cleans up. It all washes off. Even oil paints wash off with a little turpentine! Moreover, any amount of time we can carve out of our day to create is calming to me. That said, I’m mindful of what we’re wearing and where we are and to not approach it with a fussy attitude. We don’t paint in our holiday best or on the nice carpet. But we will hang out in PJs, on the deck or at the table – sometimes with a smock on or paper down but not always. I encourage him to stand over his work, get into it with his hands, etc. We generally use washable paints and supplies that clean up easily. When the weather is nice we create masterpieces on our back deck. When we are inside, I roll out craft paper on the table or floor.

Pinky: We are all about learning through play at Please Touch Museum. What learning values do you see in Mitch's play?

Chrissie: I value exploration, independence, and self expression and I see these values – and encourage them – in Mitch’s play, whether it’s in creating a painting or playing with blocks, with a pretend kitchen set, or with his cars and trains. With his art, he is able to use and explore motor skills, explore textures and media. Once I set him up and provide a lesson, I let him go. I want him to feel confident in his play to enjoy it on his own for as long as he likes. Ultimately any sort of play is a means of self expression. I feel like it’s my job as a parent to provide a nurturing environment for him to make discoveries and learn about himself.

I feel very lucky as a parent to have PTM in my backyard – not just as a fun place to take Mitch on a rainy day – but as a place that also shares my approach to art and play. There are so many other areas of our lives that are busy and “just so” but art has also been my “out” – the time and place where nothing had to adhere to a deadline or to a certain set of rules. Whether it’s through art or something else, I hope Mitch finds that same sense of peace and self worth that I did in painting, photography and ceramics. classes felt like a natural extension of my own artistic philosophy.

Chrissie DiAngelus is the owner of Piccadilly Arts, an artist management and consulting company. She manages the careers and tours of children’s theater artists and also offers marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. Her son Mitch is two years old and enjoys trains, blocks, art, music, and playing with balls.

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We're all about learning through play.

Join Pinky, one of Please Touch Museum's resident puppets, on an inside look into all the fun, educational things happening at Philly's Children's Museum. This blog is not just about what we do at the museum, but about the educational philosophy behind why we do what we do.