Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Your Thoughts? Process vs. Product and other ramblings...

So this is what's been running through my head all day today.

What do you do when a project just isn't turning out how you planned?  Do you hang it in the hallway "as is"?  Do you add another class and try to figure out how to improve it?  Or do you say "good try" and move on?

My son examining his first painting :)
My current Kindergarten and 1st grade projects are just not exactly what I had in mind.  Kindergarteners learned about lines and looked at Paul Klee's "The Golden Fish" and "Fish Magic" before drawing fish pictures with lots of crayon lines.  They painted over to make a wax resist.  1st grade students were painting fish starting with primary and neutral paint to practice mixing colors.  The main objectives (practicing lines and mixing paint colors) were met but I don't know if the average hallway passerby would have any clue what they were looking at!  The students like the projects, and they look kinda cool, most just don't look so much like fish.  I wasn't thinking about the backslide that happens over the summer so my first graders' painting skills were a little behind last May and most of the Kinders still had some scribbles in them!

The process is more important than the product.  But the product is a little important.  I don't know if I'm nervous about hanging it in the hallway because I still feel like a self-conscious new teacher (even though this is my 3rd year) and I'm afraid people will think I don't know what I'm doing or what!

Anyway, it just got me thinking.  Not every product is going to turn out exactly how you pictured when you try something new so I wondered what other people do when they are in a similar situation.  I know I'm not the only one! :)


  1. I don't put everything we do up in the hall. However, I put up information explaining every assignment when I display art. Even if it was obvious that we drew flowers, I want to educate parents (and faculty) that we are doing more than just "drawing flowers." I would probably save them, maybe have the students do something else with them later in the year (cool paper for collage or weaving?) or just have them in their portfolio to record progress.

  2. I always hang signs, too. I think it's good advocacy when they can see everything that was learned! I wouldn't worry about hanging them if we didn't have tons of grandparents coming for breakfast and open house next week. I know they always look for their kids' artwork. Just arguing with myself today.

  3. I hang up signs with explanations too. And sometimes I've hung up stuff that I didn't think turned out too well, and have gotten all kinds of compliments about the bulletin board! When this has happened I get puzzled but flattered. - So I'd say, if the kids are satisfied, hang them up, but only leave them up a short time - a week or so - and then tell the kids you needed to take them down to make room for something else.

    A few times I've handed back work without hanging and explained to the kids that I just didn't have room on the bulletin board right now, but that surely mom will hang it on the fridge!

  4. I think kids need to realize that not everything needs to have an end product and that sometimes things may not turn out the way you envisaged. As you said it's first and foremost the product and the journey. Of course we want some artworks to look great as well. With my older students if something flops, I will discuss it with them and get them to give suggestions as to how the activity could be improved for the next time.

  5. I usually display a print by the artist whose work inspired the project as well as an eplanation. This just reinforces the idea that art is more than product and process it is also appreciation and history.

  6. There have been times, not many thankfully, when I looked at the kids and said,"This isn't turning out like I imagined it would." "Can we start over and try something different?" They are usually in agreement with me and some choose to take the failed idea home because they are still proud of it. That works for me. Oh, I don't hang up everything they do either. I have to go home and try to have a life between 6:00 PM and 8:00 AM! Ha!

  7. Love your blog!!

    I teach art in high school, and no matter what the end result is, I always post a small paragraph explaining the reason and process behind the works I hang for viewing. I find that helps the "non-artists" accept what they're seeing, whether or not the product is where it should be.

  8. Thanks, painting with Brains!

    And, Pat, I have to try to find time to hang during the duty day, I have a baby to get home to! :)