Recently I was at the art gallery, staring in awe at paintings by Jackson Pollock. I was mesmerized by how much motion each painting had, and by the information provided to give a glimpse into what the artist may have been thinking. There is a great deal that I do not know about art, although I love looking at works of art and feeling inspired by shapes, colours, textures and impressions. Art takes me places I never knew existed and makes me have thoughts that I can’t explain.
Out of the blue I found myself thinking (somewhat guiltily) about the picture book Olivia, by Ian Falconer. She is also at the art gallery, standing before a Jackson Pollock. But there is one painting Olivia just doesn’t get. “I could do that in about five minutes,” she says to her mother. I don’t mean to suggest that I agree with Olivia. On the contrary, my earlier artistic effort took much longer than that and gave me a lot to think about in the areas of creativity, artistic process and how different art materials work. Over time I hope to discover and understand much more about all of these things. But Olivia’s comment did prompt me to think about how “non-artists” might approach teaching young children about artists and their creations.
In my classroom, art activities would be provided on a daily basis. We also displayed images by famous artists by recycling old calendars. Picture books were read to provide information and inspiration. But I often felt there was more that could be done. I have found a few interesting resources on-line that suggest even more ideas for bringing greater richness into the experiences that young children have with art. One is a short article called Looking at Art with Toddlers (http://www.seec.si.edu/media/article-artwithtoddlers.pdf) which has some interesting suggestions for talking to children and linking visits to the art gallery with personally meaningful experiences. Another is a case study from Queensland entitled Looking at Art and Becoming Artists (http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/early_middle/ey_case_study_art.pdf) which shows children in the process of appreciating and creating art and developing their own gallery. I also want to include a link to the website of Bob Raczka (http://www.bobraczka.com/), who has written numerous books that suggest ways to look at art, engaging each of your senses and thinking of the artist’s perspective. If you’re like me, and you love art and want to learn more about it, and find different ways to share your curiosity with children, these resources may provide some inspiration.
“Working with children keeps my art fresh, keeps me motivated and keeps me young at heart. I learn to see art through the eyes of the children and they teach me so much!” ~ Dorenda Crager Watson