I recently took two 4th grade girls to plein air paint at White River. They watched me paint the trees and river the way I saw it....with lots of extra color and extra branches here and there.
I gave a pep talk about being inspired by what they saw, but also making it the way they wanted it to be. Natalie painted a golden yellow ochre river across her page with cute little white waves.
"I want a mermaid in my picture." she said, as she gazed at the river and proceeded with her painting.
"Then, I want a witch, a beanstalk, and a cave," she expounded.
"OK," I encouraged. She was painting the river she saw and adding things from her imagination. Wonderful.
Alex asked if the river in her picture could be blue instead of mud-colored.
"Of course," I said. "You are the artist."
It was fun watching the girls paint. The favorite part for Alex was mixing many colors of green for her tree centered which was drinking water by the blue river. I loved watching her joy. She was very happy with the process and her end product.
Natalie struggled getting all her details the way she pictured things in her mind. I showed her how easy it was to paint over parts of her painting and to use a smaller brush with thinner paint. I could see that she had a picture in her mind that would fill a canvas three times larger than what she had.
Painting with Natalie and Alex was fun. We even attracted Alex's grandma who came and painted with us. She wants to do it again! Good. We had a motivating afternoon!