I’ve been trying to do more art with the kids this year. I’ve long wanted to do more artist study but I’ve been kind of paralyzed by feeling like I should do it in some kind of order: chronological or by style perhaps. However, I’ve never gotten around to figuring out the right way to do it so we just didn’t do much. This year, I’m mostly using newish picture book biographies of artists that look interesting to me to decide which artist we will study next. This makes for a slightly disorganized approach to artist study but it means that it is actually getting done. So far we’ve talked about Magritte and Lichenstein and Calder. Combined with some kind of weekly art project with H. this has been a good way to incorporate more art into our homeschool.
This week we read Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter. It primarily looks at the period in Picasso’s twenties when he was beginning to work in Cubism. Winter also gives some background about Picasso’s earlier life and gives an overall feel for Picasso’s styles (and for how varied those styles were). The emphasis is on an artist who strives to create art that is new and exciting and challenging. It’s a good introductory biography although I didn’t feel like it was especially insightful.
We then did a project inspired by Picasso and his Blue and Rose Periods.The idea for this project came partially from the books Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art in the Style of the Great Masters by Mary Ann Kohl. First, each child drew a simple design. I instructed them to make their drawing just “shapes” instead of something representational as I knew it would be easier to paint.
Next, they each selected the color palette they wanted to use. We used tube watercolors which worked well. I gave them each three or four paints in their color and then told them they could also experiment with mixing the colors to get different shades and tones.
Artists from top to bottom: Me, David, John and Ruth. As I’ve said before, I’m a strong believer in doing the art project with the kids. I think they have more fun and they learn that it’s ok if it isn’t perfect. I’m not sure any of these are particularly Picasso-like. In fact, this project reminded us all of another one we did last year based on the painting I Saw The Number 5 in Gold by Charles Demuth. But we had fun regardless. John, as usual, ended up spending more time “experimenting” with mixing different colors and attempting to get the darkest black he could (without using actual black). Ruth as you can see is in her green period. Although an astute observer would detect the yellow period and pink period underneath the green (Take that Picasso! Three color periods all on one piece of paper.)
Ruth also decided to do a little performance art, turning herself into the canvas. Yes, art with a three year old is messy. And with a nine year old and six year old too. (The boys actually made a bigger mess than Ruth although they stopped short of painting their bodies.) I’m not a lover of mess and I did make them help clean up. But I’m also a realist, art is messy at times. Just buy washable paints and you’ll be ok.