A Lilliputian world
© Another Day in the Country
Ever since I began teaching art at Centre Elementary more than 15 years ago, we’ve had a yearly art show. I call it The Artful Eye because, in art, one does learn a particular way of seeing things.
At the beginning of this school year, I decided to introduce fifth grade students to a new concept: Lilliputian.
It means small, really little. There are folks who carry the concept to such fine detail that they make sculptures that can sit on a pinhead, so tiny that they are viewed through a magnifying glass.
We didn’t carry it to that extreme in fifth grade. Instead, they were introduced to small 3-by-5-inch canvas and encouraged to paint miniature works of art.
When kids begin learning about art in third grade, I often have to encourage them to draw bigger, not smaller. Our first instinct is to keep our attempts at reproduction tiny so mistakes don’t loom so large.
“Fill the page,” I tell the children. “Longer strokes.”
Now I was saying just the opposite, “Reduce it.”
After completing the miniature masterpieces, we tried tiny pieces of pottery. Out of this quick lesson in making pinch pots and coil pots came little works of art that you could set on your thumb.
Looking forward to The Artful Eye show, I had an idea to display their Lilliputian vases and tiny baskets filled with eensy-teensy flowers. I tried drying some of the smaller blossoms in my garden last fall, but they were too laborious to store and not as bright and bubbly as I needed these arrangements to be.
Finally, I found at my favorite hobby shop some tiny artificial blooms that I could snip apart to grace our Lilliputian vases.
My next challenge was how to keep the vases from toppling there were flowers inside. As I wandered store aisles, the problem was solved with what they called “driftwood chips,” which I used for mounting.
With the art show only weeks away, I was eager to see how our experiment in small, decorative objects was going to work. I came home and opened up the little Ziploc bags where each child’s Lilliputian art was stored and began to assemble the display.
You should see my desk! Better yet, you should see The Artful Eye show May 8 at Centre on US-56/77. Doors open for viewing at 6:30 p.m.
Even I am amazed at the beautiful artwork my kids create. Every year I get to teach simple art concepts to someone else’s children in grades three, four and five, and it’s the most fun in the world!
Last week, Grant, one of my third graders, had completed his project and was waiting for the bulk of his class to finish theirs. I gave him a copy of a zentangle drawing and said, “Try these designs and see how you do.”
“I’m going to try that thing where you draw without looking,” he said to me.
Drawing without looking is teaching your hand to follow your eye. You look at the object you are drawing and not at the paper where your pencil is moving.
“Good for you!” I encouraged.
A couple of minutes later I glanced over to see how he was doing.
“Grant, what does this look like?” I asked, flipping the drawing around so he could see it the way I saw it, upside down.
“It’s a dog!” the little girl next to him exclaimed.
It was a dog all right — a wonderfully free, amazing line drawing of a hound. My little artist was amazed. He hadn’t started out to draw a dog, especially upside down, but there it was.
“I don’t know how it happened,” my little Picasso said, throwing up his hands.
“That’s art,” I said, “Sometimes it just happens,” on another day in the country.