Lately my book marketing pursuits have led me back into the elementary classroom, where I’m asked to bring a culture project to do with the kids. With each visit I am reminded as to why teachers love what they do, year after year. Every time a group of children lights up as they dive into art making, I can only describe my feeling from head to toe in one word…. happy. I’m reminded of the wonder and freedom kids have when they pick up a brush full of paint or construct something original out of paper. They get lost in the process and in their private world of imagination and often look at their results with pride and disbelief… “did I really make that?”.
Recently I made mini-scrolls with first and second graders. It is a great, manageable format for trying out brush painting, calligraphy or just simple drawings. I constructed the scrolls ahead (easy!) so we could get right to it. I offered visual reference and guidance for painting pandas and bamboo. I was pleased when some of the students proceeded to completely ignore me and paint what meant China to them including maps, pagodas, lanterns and lots of dragons. As only a guest author, I could not be held accountable when they didn’t stick to the plan!