So… I do a small art class in our homeschool community, and today I’m sharing detailed notes from our most recent lessons. You might find them useful and want to use them as a springboard in your own communities 🙂
WHAT AGE GROUP IS THIS FOR: I do two versions of my art class; one group has children aged 5-8. The second group is aged 3-6. Most of the notes here are from the 5-8 group, but I have also included some notes from the second group, and indicated where I have done so.
Aren’t they a bit young to study this type of art?
A valid question. Here’s what Charlotte Mason herself has to say:
“…some might say, ‘Young children can’t appreciate real art…’ But, the truth is, the minds of children are just like the minds of adults. They get used to whatever they’re around… We don’t know how much influence any artist might have on a child’s sense of beauty, and his ability to see the common sights around him as if he’s seeing a picture. He is enriched more than we’ll ever know by looking at even one picture closely.”
PART ONE: Introduction to Kandinsky
For our first lesson, we started off with an introduction to Wassily Kandinsky. I played a YouTube video on how to pronounce his name, and we all shouted it out together a few times!
[FYI: kids love shouting. Want them to remember something? Make them shout it. It works!]
Briefly, we discussed where he is from (Russia) and that he was a good friend of Paul Klee (the artist we had been studying together before this).
PART TWO: Charlotte Mason-Inspired Picture Study
The painting we studied for our first lesson was Impression III (Concert):
I deliberately choose something from Kandinsky’s earliest art, as we will be studying his work over a few weeks. It also introduced Kandinsky’s love for music, which played an important role in his art, so could not be ignored.
This is how I do “Picture Study” in a group setting:
1. I print out a few colour copies of the painting we’ll study.
2. I split the group into pairs, or small groups of three.
3. I give each pair/group a copy of the painting and ask them to first look at it together, encouraging them to tell each other what they see.
4. After about two minutes, I ask them to look at it for another minute or so in silence, reminding them that after this I will ask them to report back their findings.
5. I take the paintings away and hide them. I now ask them to tell me what they remember.
If I feel the need, I prompt them with questions such as, what colours did you see? What shapes? How did it make you feel? Were there more warm colours or cool colours?
Here are some of the observations that were made about the black part of this particular painting:
Isa (8): “It looks like a panda’s foot.”
Fatima (5): “It looks like a window.”
Khadija (5): “I think it’s a mountain.”
PART THREE: Discussion
I lay out the painting, so that it is visible to all the children once again.
At this point, I let them know what the artist was actually trying to represent. However, I try to be careful not to say something like “this is what it actually is…” so that it doesn’t sound like they were wrong.
I want them to feel confident in putting their ideas forward, and not feel like there is a right or wrong answer.
In this case, the painting was made by Kandinsky after visiting a concert. He was so moved, he created this. Most likely, the black object is a piano!
We also discussed his use of yellow and blue. I prepared some points based on his colour theory, scaled down to an elementary level as follows:
– YELLOW is a warm and earthly colour that has a “spreading” effect, and can make you feel excited, even a bit mad!
– BLUE is cool and has a peaceful effect. It makes you think of things that are deep (like the ocean) or heavenly/supernatural things.
PART FOUR: Making Art
We made Kandinsky-inspired art, focusing on yellow, blue and black.
In order for them to really think about and connect with these colours, I had them work on each colour, one at a time.
Each child had:
– one A4 sized piece of blank white paper
– two small pieces of blank white paper
– a black marker
– yellow and blue crayons
– scissors and glue.
I asked them to colour one of the small pieces of paper completely in yellow. Once they were done, I asked them to do the same with the other, but in blue.
Then, I asked them to use their markers to draw a large shape anywhere on the page. Some choose to try and copy the “piano” in Kandinsky’s painting; others did something totally different.
Finally, they were asked to glue the yellow and black papers around the black object. Some choose to cut their papers into smaller sizes first.
Here are some of the final pieces:
(Thank you Asma from Acorn Homeschool for the last two images!)
A week later, I repeated this class with the second group, aged 3-6. However, they completely surprised me by engaging in the same level of discussions as the “older” children!
We did the picture study as a group, and here were some of the thoughts on what the “black part” might be:
Sumaiya (6): “a bird!”
Nusaiba (5): “a boat!”
I wanted this group to really focus on yellow and blue too, so I had them colour in some colouring pages using only yellow and blue crayons.
As I hold the class once a week, I see each group fortnightly, rotating between them. As such, I assign each group “homework” to do during the week they don’t have class.
This time, I asked them to make invitation cards to a concert to send to Kandinsky himself! They were to focus and incorporate blue and yellow as much as possible, and consider what they think he would like to see.
Here are some of the fantastic pieces they came up with:
In the next blog post, I’ll cover how we looked at one of Kandinsky’s most popular paintings. Stay tuned 🙂