In the studio: Rationing art supplies, part 2
I want my children to have high-quality art materials. It shows my respect for their work and, in turn, they treat it more seriously.
That said, if they create 15 paintings in a row, that is a lot of watercolor paper. Can I afford this?
(Multiple by 20 for the classroom version!)
In order for children to work with the best materials, they must learn to work with them as a real artist does. They must learn that before we do an important work, we sketch. We think about what we want to make. We plan. Then we get out the nice materials, when we are ready to do the important work.
It's okay to make mistakes and need more paper, more paint. But when we are exploring and sketching and thinking (with our brains and with our paintbrush), we want to use "regular" paper.
It's also okay to explore with nice materials -- seeing what ink can do on thick paper, how watercolor paints work differently on lovely textured paper. But we name what we are doing, and we make sure that we respect the good materials and don't waste them.
Even small children can fit several sketches onto a piece of paper, then let their teacher (or parent) know that they are ready to paint. This process respects the material, the work, and the artist.
There is a idea that some adults have about children — and it is quite persistent — that children lack control. Youth = immaturity = lack of control. In reality, children can learn to negotiate complex situations and relationships at a very young age. Rather than controlling everything, and parsimoniously eking out the good paper and the best paints, we can help children recognize the value of these things. The children can then move freely in the studio (and in the world), making good choices based on real knowledge, rather than being always at some tall person's mercy, always wishing for more buttons.