The power of group painting

Through the years, my closest friends asked me why I was not teaching art to others. I always believed that I didn't know "enough" technics or art history to become an art teacher. I am a graphic designer and a self-taught artist. When finally I had the courage to open my art school, I sat down and thought what I could offer my students that will be coming truly from me, from who I am as an artist and as a person. I wanted it to be unique, something that only I could offer them. I thought about this a lot and since painting has offered me the best channel for my creativity and my voice, I came up with the idea of giving my students the opportunity of doing a group painting with me. Because the art process is mostly an individual experience, I thought that a group project could give the kids a whole different experience. I love painting in large canvases so I went to my local art supplier and got 3 large canvasses! I was already very excited!

I presented the new project to my 3 classes. The younger groups were excited and jumped in right away (ages 5-9). The oldest group (ages 10-12) decided to postpone the project for a while. Many kids, who are introvert, usually need a quiet, safe and "alone" place to create. This project was presenting them with a whole new experience because it required them to sit down on the floor (very close to each other) while happy music was playing on the background.

Firstly, I told my students about my work process and showed them my work.

At my studio, painting for a new project.

Secondly, I showed them the size of the canvas to get them excited! Unfortunately, not all of them were... so I decided to sketch each kid in the class (only for the younger groups) on the canvas. Once I pointed out where they were located in the canvas, they got a connection and got more excited. The process of sketching was important because each canvas had to fit 15-17 kids. I needed to plan this project very carefully because... it was my first time doing this with my students!

Wednesday Mixed Media Art Class, working on the floor while music was playing (first class).

Tuesday Painting & Mixed Media Art Class, working on their composition (first class).

Thursday Mixed Media Art Class, on their first class.

In the art studio, we moved tables and chairs and I invited the kids to sit comfortably on the floor around the canvas. They jumped in very quickly! Kids love to do art on the floor! During the first class, the kids only painted the first layer which consisted on choosing the right skin colour and the colours of their hair and clothes. During the second class, we added facial details and worked on the details of the background.

Wednesday Mixed Media Art Class, adding more details (second class).

Tuesday Art Class, working on their faces (second class).

Thursday Mixed Media Art Class, working on the second layer (second class).

I have never witnessed the kids so calm and engaged. They took their time adding each their special and unique features such as the expression of their faces, earrings, hair bands and other little things that added a lot to the final piece. Some of them adventured into the background with ease, while others stayed inside the boundaries of their own figure.

Siblings Abby and Rogan (Grade 2 and K), going beyond and adding details to the background!

Hannah and Leora stayed a bit longer and enjoyed painting once the group finished.

Tuesday Class, during their second class they added their special features and details.

Many kids encountered frustrations while painting their facial features. We talked about different brush sizes and their shapes and we tried the different styles that these brushes can give you. I was very proud to see that they all overcame their own "mini crisis" and moved forward to complete their group project.

What have I learned from this amazing experience? The feeling of working on something together is very powerful. The kids learned to listen, to compromise, to wait, to overcome their frustration and not to give up, to make room for your friend (it was crowded at times) and be considerate of the one sitting next to you, to respect your friend's artwork and to be proud of the final result with no judgments. I think the photos speak for themselves. The kids were very happy and proud!

Tuesday Art Class Group Painting.

Wednesday Art Class Group Painting.

Thursday Art Class Group Painting.

The final pieces are hanging in our art studio and they make us happy every time we look at them!

After the paintings were completed, I took a photo and uploaded it to my on-line shop Society 6 and now parents can purchase incredible and original gifts with their kids' creations.

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become"

with love, Jazmin

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