Early Creative Experience

Early Art Experience

Early Art Experience-Gadamer (word)

Early Art Experience-Gadamer (pdf)

Recounting an early art experience can be difficult…why?

Gadamer: Alienation of aesthetic and historical consciousness 

                Aesthetic Consciousness – Loss involves a withdrawal or alienation from the authentic experience of an artwork.

Historical Consciousness – Loss involves an attempt to hold ourselves at a critical distance in understanding voice or objects from our past.

Concepts 2015 001

Characteristics / Elements of the Art Making Process?    Characteristics-Elements of Art Making Experience (word)     Characteristics-Elements of Art Making Experience (pdf)      

Studio Habits Visual (pdf)

  • Passion
  • Pertinent
  • Personal
  • Challenging
  • Relationships between medium and maker
  • Building skill
  • Process and product
  • Engaging (fun)
  • Persistence and patience
  • Choice
  • Structure
  • Problem posing
  • Problem solving
  • Need to create
  • Art versus “exercise” or skill building
  • Self-expression
  • Discovery
  • Exploration
  • Experimentation
  • Recognizing different perspectives
  • Memory
  • Originality
  • Curiosity
  • Flexibility
  • Accepting ambiguity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Reflection
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Taking risk
  • Accepting failure
  • Play
  • Purpose and planning
  • Ideation
  • Refining
  • Spontaneity
  • Pride
  • Encouragement
  • Collaboration
  • Lack of self-consciousness
  • Observing
  • Seeing the potential in anything and everything
  • Integration
  • Research / “information gathering”
  • Exploring support
  • Fluency
  • Expertise
  • Self-critical


Before you begin, visualize and record this event in your sketchbook; also listing key words relating to this experience.

Early Art Experience Paper Rubric (word)     Early Art Experience Paper Rubric (pdf)

Early Creative Experience Paper: Reflect upon and describe, in detail, an early  creative (“art”) experience. Think about why this specific event comes to mind. What “elements” or characteristics constitute this event as a creative experience for you? Interview people about their early creative experiences. Describe similarities and differences between your story and their stories. Conclude your response by reflecting on your own art education experiences.

(Italics = early creative experience description / Underline = elements involved in making / Bold = interviews / Bold w/underline = conclusion)


Every Sunday morning when I was about five years old, my mom would go to work. My older brother and I would always sleep in really late and wake up to the smell of my dad making chocolate chip pancakes. After breakfast, my dad would cover the table with newspaper and paper towels and set out six different colored jars of finger paint. I would go upstairs and change into my painting attire was just as important as the painting process awaiting me downstairs.

“Painting with Hands!”

There are countless photographs of me in my numerous mismatched creative outfits. My favorite outfit consisted of a yellow and black zebra-striped bandana that I tied around my head like a ninja. I wore overalls with a pin-striped sort of “train conductor” pattern on them, and a white turtleneck with different colored cupcakes all over. I never matched my socks and often ended up looking like I got in a fight with a paint palette and lost.

My dad would always put on some sort of music for inspiration and give my brother and me large amounts of paper to paint on. People often assume that finger painting is a very juvenile art form, but to me it was the most expressive art form I have ever done. While we painted, my dad encouraged my brother and me to get messy and use our hands as paintbrushes. I would carefully choose a color and watch the patterns created on the paper as I dragged my paint soaked hand across its surface.

“Making Art!”

Placing another color on top; I anxiously watched to see what color would be created. Slowly my creation emerged with each successive layer of paint. New colors and patterns were freely produced with the rhythmic movement of my hands and body. I remember feeling like I was the greatest artist ever and took great pride in the colorful, abstract, expressive masterpieces I made. My dad would often finger-paint with us, and didn’t seem to mind if I had paint in my hair, or all over my clothes.

One of the “features” of this experience was to get messy and enjoy the process of physically creating art with your hands. My dad never told me what colors to use, or questioned why I decided to make a tree pink or orange, instead of using realistic colors. I created without restriction; playing with the paint and learning what it could do. This sort of creative freedom and encouragement of expression has influenced me as an artist throughout my life.

This process seems very natural—it tapped into a very natural and innate artistic ability I feel all children possess. The idea of physically dipping your fingers and hands into a jar of paint and using them as tools for creating art is such an emotional and personal experience. No two finger paintings will look the same. The beauty lies within knowing each painting is an individual unique piece of art that will never be created again.

As I spoke to others about their early art experiences, I discovered many of the experiences were memorable because it involved a unique idea, or it was a challenging problem to conquer. I also found that many people remember receiving a lot of encouragement from teachers, parents or friends to be artistic, and felt confident about their artwork. Sadly, a few of my interviewees did not feel confident about their artwork soon after their early art experience memories. This is due to a lack of encouragement, or a dwindling of interest in art. As one girl I interviewed—Lana—stated, “I grew out of being artistic.”


Lana remembers her early art experience very clearly. She was in an art class in first grade in which the whole class was required to build a giant “Team Sculpture”. She was very excited when explaining the process of creating a ten foot papier mâché giraffe! Her favorite part of the project was painting, simply because she did not like the way the papier mâché got her dirty. I wonder at what point in time, kids start to be uncomfortable with getting dirty while creating art, and why? I remember loving the idea of getting my hands covered in paint, or clay, or having sidewalk chalk all over my face. Though I cannot completely relate to Lana’s opinion about not liking to get dirty in the process of making art, I know many students feel this way, and it ultimately can affect their like, or dislike, of making art.

My dad on the other hand remembers his early art experience as being solely about the process and getting dirty. My dad has nine brothers and sisters, who all grew up in one very small house. On the weekends when school was out, my grandma had no idea what to do to keep all those kids out of trouble. Her solution was art!

“Experience in Clay”

She taught my dad and his siblings how to make clay out of flour, water, corn starch and food coloring. My dad remembers these weekends of artistic exploration being some of his favorite childhood memories. He explained how proud my grandma would be when he showed her his sculptures and designs in clay.

She always encouraged the kids to get messy and explained that was part of the process of creating great art. I believe that my dad took this memory as a positive experience of getting kids to start making art at an early age, which is in part why he was so enthusiastic about our Saturday morning finger-painting ritual.

The last person I interviewed about their early art experience was my mom. My mom is far from a self-proclaimed artist, and in fact, does not feel that art is one of her strongest suites at all. However, she did not always feel this way. When I asked about her art experience, she remembered all the way back to summer camp. She told me about all sorts of arts and crafts she enjoyed doing. The one art experience that topped her whole list of memories was making copper foil drawings. She remembered etching a Spartan soldier into one of those plates and proudly displaying it for everyone at camp. She recalls receiving a lot of encouragement from counselors and the art specialist at the summer camp. She explained to me that as she got older, she did not receive that kind of support to continue making art.

After talking to my mom, as well as the other people I interviewed, I feel that the key to children becoming artists is enthusiasm, encouragement, and inspiration. The more excited I am about the process of making art, whether it is a colored pencil drawing or a papier mâché mask, the more enthusiastic the students will be. Looking back on my own art experience, I truly believe this is where my artistic interest was sparked. I felt like I could be expressive, abstract, messy, and spontaneous and knew that I would have the encouragement to do so. The ability for children to make art is innate. It is a very honest and human way of expressing oneself. It is crucial to guide a child’s artistic development and make sure they never, “grow out of being artistic.”


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