The Theme of the 2012 KAEA Professional Development Conference is Creating Vibrant Communities through Art and Design. KAEA Asked Art educators to write about how they fulfill the conference theme.
Circle Painting is a community-based Art movement founded by artist and teacher, Hiep Nguyen. Nguyen’s goal is to make Art accessible to all! Circle Painting is bold, interactive, collaborative, and fun. Participants are all working together to make Art based on the idea of circles. Having a common design element makes the end product just as impressive as the experience of painting. Besides providing an organizational element to the artwork, circles were chosen for their symbolism. The Circle Painting website says,
“The circle is a universal symbol everyone can relate to. Simple yet profound, it symbolizes wholeness, enlightenment, and the universe in all cultures. For us, the circle means connect, create, and celebrate. What does the circle mean to you?”
Last spring my 4th-6th grade students gave Circle Painting a try. After watching a few short YouTube videos of Circle Painting events and viewing paintings on CirclePainting.org, I placed large pieces of paper (24x36 inches) on the classroom tables. I relaxed my usual seating charts to let students move around the room to work. Each table chose brightly colored tempera paint- save black for the end*- and set to work. I encouraged the students to start by painting some very large circles then layering smaller circles and designs on top. We talked about how to work together on a project like this by adding to the work, not just covering up what someone else painted. The students in following classes added to the paintings started by the first class or started new paintings when we decided they were finished.
*Saving black tempera paint for the end made the finishing details stand out and prevented over mixing and muddy colors.
I saved the 20+ circle paintings and will hang them in the hallway before school starts. The paintings will make the school fun and inviting from the beginning of the school year and will remind the students of the sense of community they felt when working together to make the wonderful artwork.
You can learn more about Circle Painting by visiting www.CirclePainting.org.