Little Artists

March 4, 2008

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I have been teaching art to children part time for the past few months and am greatly enjoying it! My kids are very young – from 1.5 years old up to around 4 years old. Since the children are so young, in many ways, it’s less about teaching art, and more about guiding the children through the exploration of art materials…textures, colors, shapes, and feelings. The theme for this semester’s classes is “famous artists” and so we have been exploring the work of artists like Matisse, Monet, Pollock, & Van Gogh each week. Each class explores a different artist and the techniques & themes that are unique to his/her work.

Here are a few pictures of projects that we did for different artists:

Monet (right) ~ After looking at pictures of some of Monet’s water lily paintings, we applied colorful torn tissue paper and a glue paste on construction paper. When the tissue paper was wet, the children noticed that the different colors bled together to create new colors in addition to the colors created by the overlapping paper. I explained that Monet had created his pieces by layering many different colors of paint in a similar way, to create pictures rich in depth & light.

Pollock (below) ~ A few weeks ago we talked about Jackson Pollock and his famous drip paintings. I handed out colorful construction paper and bowls of liquid glue. I showed the children how to dip a spoon in the glue and then dribble it all over the paper – creating different abstract lines, shapes, and both thick and thin lines. After applying the glue I presented them with containers of different brightly colored sand which they sprinkled over the glue. After shaking off the excess sand, they were left with beautiful sand splatter art!

Van Gogh (not pictured) ~ This week we are learning about Van Gogh and specifically looking at his painting “Starry Night.” In class we have been using finger paint and applying it thickly onto paper. Then, the children are using their fingers or other tools to carve into the texture and create patterns and images in the paint, as Van Gogh applied thick oil paint to canvas and then shaped it with his palette knife & brush.

Each class begins with some free painting time at the easel. The children have many jars of paint to choose from and are encouraged to experiment with color mixing & mark making. I am always amazed at this process and how at ease the children seem to be at the easel – even the first time painters!

I have noticed how much working with these “little artists” has inspired my own studio practice. The children approach art making wholeheartedly and with such trust in the process. In fact, especially at this age, it is the process and not the product that truly matters. Similarly, with my own art making, the best studio sessions are when I am completely immersed in the process, and not overly preoccupied with the finished product.

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