I’ve avoided having an easel in my studio so far. It depends what kind of work you are doing, but when I first got the space, I wanted to be free to experiment, to make a mess, to be unrestricted. I like to be able to crouch beside the work, to move around it, to pin stuff up and take it down. Having floor space means space to work bigger and freer, to try out a combination of mediums.
I saw this same joy in the children this week when, by chance, the tables had been removed from the room we use for art and storytelling. This meant space to work bigger and bolder, to try out new ideas. It was entirely natural for them to spread out, alone or in small groups and begin creating with very little prompting from me. I am there to suggest, to oversee, to offer encouragement. To provide safe boundaries and make sure they have the materials. I try to say YES to their ideas, or if something isn’t possible, to find an alternative. We have our central story and characters to fall back on for ideas, but this has expanded into the children’s own stories in mini books they are illustrating.
One boy likes to stand on a chair and tell us an installment of his own story each week. Before the end of the session, everyone gets a chance to share with the group what they have been working on. Most of the group have come back term after term, and there is a comradeship, a familiarity they can fall into. Each term someone may leave, and someone new comes bringing fresh ideas and inspiration.
This week, one boy squeezed out paint combinations, and made these ‘portals’ by rotating a plate on top of the paint.