A Flower Provocation

by Roberta Pucci and Suzanne Axelsson

Have a look at the photo below: it shows a set-up or “provocation” that is sometimes offered to children in preschools, generally associated with the Reggio approach. What is your first impression? My opinion is we can’t state it was effective or interesting for children if we know nothing about the context the proposal was offered within.

Why suggest drawing a flower to children? What was the relationship between the children and that flower? And then, according to the answers, why choose those specific drawing tools?

If I have reached the point where a flower is to be drawn, then I would observe with the children first. If the observation shows that the children are interested in the different shades of the flowers, then I would probably not use pens but allow them to mix colours themselves, with more appropriate art materials (like tempera, water colors or even oil pastels or plasticine).

If the interest was the form, then maybe just an ordinary pencil, so the focus was seeing size and shape rather than colour. Or I would just let the children interpret the flower themselves – choose different art materials if they want, because maybe it’s about enjoying the interpretation instead.

If the purpose is to support a child who is struggling with art or communication or some other particular need, a suggestion might be suitable: when a limited choice can be of benefit and offer a necessary structure… but then it is a specific support of helping a child to learn how to select when they are easily overwhelmed, with this structure being removed when they no longer need it.

Thus, every choice is not good or bad in itself.

Beauty, the aesthetics, is also an important aspect, but a beautiful looking proposal can not enable a meaningful process if it does not connect to the real experience of the child.

You are welcome to share your experiences about similar proposals of a drawing setting with a flower (or vegetable subject): why did you choose it? How did the children react?

This post was inspired by the interaction between Roberta and Suzanne, in reaction to Roberta’s post The 100 is there.

It is available in five languages as part of the Grammar of Drawing project, in a collaboration between Suzanne Axelsson, Nona Orbach and Roberta Pucci:

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