Many people are reluctant to talk to their children about Art. Why is this? Is it because you feel you don’t have enough knowledge of art yourself? Do you feel intimidated by the art world? Are you worried you will get it wrong?
Being inspired by art does not require you to understand everything there is to know about the world of art, artists and galleries. When exploring art with younger children, all it takes is a little bit of curiosity and appreciation of art.
If you can appreciate the time and effort that it takes to make the art, and then ask questions that explore the different parts of the art, then you are well on the way to encouraging this appreciation within your child as well. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you are best to let your child’s curiosity lead you. If they would like to delve more into the information about a painting, artist, or art movement then by all means, but start with the basics.
Some of the questions I will ask when looking at a piece of art with children are:
What colours can you see?
What shapes can you see?
What do you think is happening in the picture?
How do you think that the artist made this art?
How do you think the artist was feeling when they made the art?
It’s also really fun to explore when an artist was born, children find it incredibly interesting when an artist was born a long time ago, and it also can give some context to the subject matter, allowing you to talk about things like why people are dressed the way they are or why the ships and other subject matter look different to modern-day objects.
Remember, you do not need to know everything there is to know about an artist you can learn alongside your child. The internet is a wonderful source of information and images, and then if there is an artist that you can see inspires your child, then you can run with it!
Some artists to start with and that I have explored with children during both our Micro and Mini Makers classes are:
Motoi Yamamoto – This artist has built his career almost exclusively on using Salt! His name is Motoi Yamamoto and I would highly recommend checking out his work with your child to explore the concept that you can use anything to make art.
Monet – Claude Monet is an absolute favourite of mine; the gorgeous paintings of his garden make my heart sing. I also love that he didn’t want to paint like everyone else and ignored the traditional way of painting landscapes. Instead, he became one of the founders of the Impressionist movement in art
Paul Klee – Paul Klee is a man after my own heart because colour was very important to him. Each colour he placed in his painting was significant, so much so that he once said, “Colour has possessed me…colour and I are one.” Even though Klee used black allot within his paintings, colour remained his truest inspiration.
Jackson Pollock – Jackson Pollock is an American artist, and you will more than likely recognise his work when you see it. His work is energetic, full of movement and shows the extent of what process art can look like. He used all sorts of unusual utensils to make his art, including turkey basters, and the canvases he made were amazingly large and full of life.
Vincent Van Gogh – A Dutch post-impressionist painter that is one of the most well-known artists in the world. His work is stunning and thought-provoking, and I find that the conversations that start from his paintings are second to none. A painting of his that children have always enjoyed is Starry Night (pictured), ask your child what they can see in the painting, allow their imagination to run wild and listen to the story that emerges.
Wassily Kandinsky – Shapes, colours and music. This artist is both fun and fantastical. One of his well-known works is Squares with Concentric Circles, and is used throughout many children’s activities, here are some examples.
Henri Matisse – If your child likes using scissors, then this is the artist for you. Do you have mountains of scrap paper lying around, then this is the artist for you. Cut, glue and layer, organic shapes and beautiful colours, the world of Henri Matisse it incredibly inspiring and well worth exploring with your child.
A fantastic resource for many of the other Artists mentioned here is the YouTube channel Art with Mati & Dada This channel has short informative videos about artists that are suitable for children from kinder age into early primary.
Another place to start is on gallery websites, the National Gallery of Victoria currently has some fantastic online virtual tours found here you can use these to do a walkthrough and if there is a particular artist that your child finds interesting or inspiring then you can do some further research.
We also have a couple of resources available in our online store. For a Henri Matisse inspired activity that kids of all ages enjoy and comes with all the things you need, see our website here
Need more ideas for activities to do at home? We also have recently released an eBook. This is FULL of fantastic process-based art activities inspired by books and artists (for an explanation of what process-based art is, see our blog post here ). It also takes you through step by step why process art is important, how easy it is to do at home, and how you use items that are easily accessible and you might even have lying around your home to create hours of fun for your child. You can find that here.
Google will also be your friend during this journey. Simply type into the search bar your chosen artist then follow it with ‘for kids’, or ‘for preschoolers’ eg. Wassily Kandinsky for kids. This will almost always achieve fantastic results for well-known artists, however, for the lesser-known artists I recommend starting with the image section on google search, after all for many children, this is ultimately what will interest them, the images and art that an artist produces, and is a fantastic place to start.
I hope we have inspired you to learn about some artists with your kids. The art world through the eyes of your children is something that you will truly be inspired by, their curiosity and innocence are second to none. If you didn’t have much interest in it before then I can guarantee that once you have seen it through the eyes of a child you will reach new levels of appreciation.
I want to hear about the artists you explore with your children, new discoveries and old favourites. Come and say Hi on our socials, we always love to hear from our followers on Instagram and Facebook, and enjoy seeing what you have been making!
Our next blog post will be an example of a process art activity that you can do at home with your child, if you would like to have it dropped into your inbox then you can join our mailing list here