First, according to scientific research, a babyís eyes are attracted to black and white. Their eyes only see 8 to 15 inches from their faces until they are about a month old. The child gradually starts becoming more aware of colors and movement. As he gets older, he starts creating miniature Picassoís on his eating tray. Colors and textures mesh together in abstract disarray as the child explores.
Soon chubby little fingers grasp at crayons and paint brushes, skimming across and gouging at paper in an exploration of cause and effect.
By the preschool years, a childís work lets an observer peek into the windows of their soul. Colors and subject choice work together to let a childís thoughts out. Children can communicate with us in their drawings and art in a way that they might not be able to express verbally. We need to be attuned to their subtle messages. We can also use their art to talk about serious issues.
A writer from Kosovar tells how they used art as therapy with the child victims of the war. She writes that it is not the children who draw guns and violent scenes that worry her, it is the ones who donít let their feelings out and act as though everything were normal. Her article can be seen at http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/06/04/art/.
I have never met a child, or heard of a child, who did not respond in some way to the arts. I have witnessed the powerful effects of art on children in my own daycare. My husband is an artist. Many of his creations are mobiles which he crafts and designs right in the daycare.
For the last few years I have observed every child in my daycare become fascinated with the process of building a mobile and with the results. During nap time some of the five year olds will, on a regular basis, sit for over an hour chatting with my husband, watching him cut shapes and balance them.
As I watch the fascination of the children and see them create their own forms of art, I am struck with a realization of how we are intrinsically connected with the world of art.
I gaze at the mobiles floating around my ceiling and connect with them. We humans are suspended in space. We are different colors and different shapes and yet we all must conform to the natural laws of gravity and balance. As we work in harmony with each other, we can traverse our own path, hovering around individually, affected differently from the others depending on where the wind takes us. And yet, we are still connected with others. Which, when seen from afar as a big picture, portrays a single work of art floating in beauty.
The children have made me look closer at the shapes and colors around me. My sunsets are no longer just wonderful; they are color swirls on a canvas. Trips to the playground are not just walks on pathways; they are treasure hunts full of triangles and circles. Mud becomes paint and leaves, paintbrushes. I have taught the children about textures and colors. They have taught me to look at the world with fresh eyes. These beautiful children are indeed living, breathing masterpieces and I stand in awe of their perceptions of art.