Artistic Development – By the Numbers

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Crafty Cora is starting to get interested in activity books. You know, the ones you buy at the grocery store that are full of coloring pages, mazes, and connect the dots. As a professional art educator part of me cringes at the thought of them. They were an integral part of my own childhood, however, and as such my artistic development.

This morning we are coloring by number, per her request. Just as Duncum (1988) wrote of copying, there is some merit to this activity, even if the result is not an original work of art. Here are a few thoughts on that.

• Cora is focused and concentrating on completing a task. The smile on her face at the end was evidence that she enjoyed this as much as the process.

• She is learning to see numbers in use as symbols representing actions.

• She is participating, if unwittingly at this point, in an art making tradition with a history we can explore at some later date.

Here’s to breaking our own rules, sometimes.

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5 thoughts on “Artistic Development – By the Numbers

  1. I remember as a child that any chance to make a mark with an art medium was delightful.Some kids followed the strict guidelines of paint by number, some kids didn’t. All were pleasurable experiences. Like Craig Roland says, “art is a big tent, with room for all experiences”.(paraphrased).

  2. I feel like structure, boundaries, and parameters are extremely necessary for students in the beginning of the artistic development stages. Experimentation of materials and sufficient time to explore are absolutely crucial, but there is also a time and place for structure. I have purchased several coloring books by Taro Gomi. One of the books is titled “Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing and Coloring Book.” I find these coloring books to be a nice compromise.

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