Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, and Lichtenstein art lessons for toddlers & preschoolers

Life is Good: we're making more art!

I have two cameras (plus my phone)--the one I use all of the time and my "back-up camera". I just downloaded pics from my back-up and found a bunch of pics from our modern art exploration a couple of summers ago! (Can you say "A mother of three has a to do list a mile long and this was at the bottom of the totem pole"?)

I can't wait to explore these art lessons again with my kids now. It will be fun to see what the Big Kid does with it all now that he is a little older.  And if the Little Kid's work is similar to the Big Kid's when he was his age. And of course, I love the idea of letting the Littlest One explore. He lovvvvvves a glue stick!

It seems like yesterday that the Big Kid was obsessed with Picasso. So I introduced Jackson Pollock to him because Pollock, like Picasso, was an art revolutionary. In fact, Pollock credited Picasso as an influence as did many other modern artists. Pollock went against what critics and buyers and what everyone else thought was "art" and made art that made him happy and feel fulfilled. I love using Picasso and Pollock as examples of being true to yourself. The notion feels less abstract (pardon the pun) when you are able to show beautiful, vibrant art pieces as the result. Pollock's art was much more intentional than the work shows to the pedestrian viewer.

So of course, if you are going to learn about Pollock, you have to THROW PAINT! We tried lots of styles of paint throwing. From different distances, with different sized brushes. Try throwing some art and you just might see why Pollock was having so much fun!

In the same vein as paint throwing, we also tried squirting paint using these plastic containers and these containers as well as "spraying" paint (1/3 water, 2/3 paint) in these containers.

It's been a while since I watched it, but I remember that the movie, "Pollock" was good. I think it was "sad and moving" good. Not "happily ever after/uplifting/funny" good at all. You can find it on Netflix.

In our quest to examine modern art, projects for a toddler and a preschooler inspired by Mondrian seemed like a home run. Mondrian used primary colored geometrics plus black and white to create what was a revolution in art. Here are some examples:

So we decided to make some Mondrian-inspired pieces, too. It is a simple exploration of shape and color. Just cut up pieces of red, blue, and yellow paper and some strips of black, get out a larger piece of white paper and some glue stick and start experimenting! In many ways, it is like putting a puzzle piece together. I have always intended to make a felt version of this, but alas, never took the time. It would be a great travel toy.

Here's what the big kid came up with...

And little brother decided to make his more abstract...

Another favorite modern artist of mine is Lichtenstein. He, too was influenced by the great artists like Picasso and Van Gogh. I showed my two little people photos of Van Gogh's "The Bedroom". We talked about the style and the colors and the subject matter. Then, I showed them Lichtenstein's "Bedroom at Arles". Again, we talked about style and color, but this time we also talked about the difference between the styles and why the artists might have made the choices they did. We talked about "being inspired by" something versus copying something. I, personally, am okay with letting older kids recreate art for the expanding of skills and technique. I try to encourage older children to be influenced or inspired, but to still do their own version. I do not feel good about having kids under 5 imitate someone else's work (famous artist, teacher, parent, etc) because I think it sends the wrong message about creativity and sets up an expectation for perfection. I believe this pursuit of perfection is responsible for unhealthy attitudes about art in adults and in children. In my opinion, if you keep your art projects (for adults or children) about experimentation, exploration, and the process, you will have happier, healthier art experiences. These art experiences will then (hopefully) set a foundation for confidence (in art and in lots of other realms) and creative problem solving in the future. Again, emphasis of PROCESS of art making and exploring not the PRODUCT that you end up with.

My little dudes really loved the Lichtenstein work. It is so cartoony and joyful, why wouldn't they? The Big Kid really wanted to make his own bedroom art piece, so we looked at each example and talked about what we liked best in each one. He preferred Lichtenstein's version, mostly due to the graphic quality (though it was articulated to me differently). He decided to make his own bedroom using markers.

And the Little Kid made his own masterpiece with markers, too.
I just love it! Do you see the big face? And the smaller person in orange? And the angel flying in the top corner? And the other one at the bottom? Do you see the wind turbines? The giraffe? What else do you see? Art is everywhere! You just have to keep your eyes open for it!

“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life, a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.”

Richard W. Riley, Former US Secretary of Education

No comments:

Post a Comment