Monday, November 5, 2012

Kids and Traditional Media

The above is a screen shot from a commercial (for a Microsoft product*) I find terrifying and sad. Little girl sets computer up on her easel and paints on it. What, no real paints for kids anymore?

Which I posted on Facebook. And people responded. Nice people who are my friends. People with kids talking about how this was good as there was no mess and the images could be sent to grandmother right away.

And so I said this to them, I say it to you:

Let me break down my position here. I am glad kids can have their digital paintings and grandma can have her artwork. It is handy to not have a gigantic box of a thousand kid paintings to keep track of. It is also super nice to not have a mess in the house. I appreciate all of these things.

But ... BUT ...

Gone--GONE!--is the tactile. Gone is the smell and the grittiness of tempura paint on paper. Gone is the way crayons kind of don't work when you try to pile color on top of color. Gone is watercolor paint running amok, escaping across the paper and bending it, soaking through. Gone is salt in that paint, spreading it, and creating weird effects. Gone is the pencil lead and the funky smell of markers. Gone is understanding why the media on the computer mimics what it does. Don't take real media away from your kids, especially if they are artistically inclined. The key element of art is the experience of all of those things. It's messy and weird and amazing. This is learning art. This is what art should be for children. (And adults too.)*

Admittedly, there is some irony here as I work digitally.  But, I still do all of my under drawing in non-photo blue pencil (items that are getting harder to find) and my line with B leads in my mechanical pencils on 50lb Canson paper. The lead is soft, almost buttery, as I turn my pencil for fat or thin lines. The paper pulls and tugs as I draw, spinning the paper around to get the right movement of the line or follow the angle of the shape I am drawing.

I got here through the journey through traditional media and they are still my favorite way to work. They are dear to me. As a kid, each time at the table with paints, pencils, or crayons were keystone moments of discovery in my development. Were I to not have had them, there would be a large absence from my life. You would be taking away one of the greatest loves I have.

* Copyright Microsoft 2012, used without permission



Hear hear!

alicia policia said...

Yup! Right on!

brandy said...

Well the times are a-changing. This is true...always.

You could also say about your current process that you are taking steps out of the artistic experience by using already created mediums and tools. Back in the day in order to paint or write you would have to use finely ground stone or sand mixed with animal fat, blood, or plants and apply using tools made of carved bone.

But alas, technology saved us the messiness of using a dead mammoth to paint a picture of said mammoth.

In my opinion, if you are an artistic person, no matter the medium available to you, you always find a way to express it.

All that said, I appreciate a good finger painting like no other and will not have my kids miss out on that!