Sunday, 7 February 2016

Collaborative painting with my toddler

The most recent Lifebook lesson that I've completed was by the wonderful Annie Hamman featuring her daughter Tallulah. I had seen the trailer for this lesson (you can watch it here) and it was one of the reasons I signed up for Lifebook this year, it looked like so much fun and I would love to be able to paint like that with Baby Barnacle (BB) when she's a bit older.

The idea is to paint collaboratively with your child, each taking a turn on the same canvas, and "you get what you get and you don't get upset"!

I love the idea of this way of working, because art brings me so much joy and I can already see the beginnings of that enjoyment in BB when she has a crayon or paintbrush in her hand. I decided we would have a go at the lesson, even though she is quite a bit younger than Tallulah, and just see what happened.

To begin with I sketched a quick face loosely based on a picture I found in a magazine. I added a little bit of paint in a few bright colours quite quickly; I thought "It doesn't matter what it looks like, it's just going to be painted over anyway". This is exactly the point of this type of "Fearless Art"! It is so freeing! There are no mistakes! It can all be painted over, and probably will be, again and again.

Once this had dried I put a few colours of acrylic paint on the palette and let BB loose with the brush!

This was the result...

It was at this point that the fear returned. How was I supposed to turn that back into a face? And did I even want to? Who was I to paint over my darling girl's expressive brushstrokes? Honestly this was far harder than letting her paint over what I had done to start with!

Eventually, I just started by adding a few of the details back in, the shape of the face and mouth, the eyes, adding some hair. It got a bit easier after that but I wanted to leave some of her marks visible. This was easy enough around the outside of the face, I just painted in a dark wash of Paynes Grey for the background, but it was much harder in the face itself. I wish now I'd left more of her marks in around the chin and jawline, but it was just a first attempt, I'm sure we'll be trying many more collaborations in the future!

I really learnt a lot from this way of working with her. If you have a remotely tame little one who can hold a paintbrush, or can borrow one for an hour or two, I'd definitely recommend trying a collaboration. You never know where it might take you, and that is half the fun! Let me know in the comments if you do have a go.

For more inspiration, check out Tallulah's website.

Annie and Tallulah are also running an online workshop beginning at the end of February. You can find all the details here.

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