Tomorrow is International Art Appreciation Day. Do you talk to your kids about art? Or take them to galleries? Or does the whole subject intimidate you slightly? If you are hoping to integrate a bit of art appreciation into your children’s artistic and creative endeavours, here are a few ideas.
Read about art appreciation. The James Mayhew Katie series is still a favourite of ours. Katie meets a variety of characters in different works of art and has adventures in the galleries. For older kids try Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime! and other similar books by Anna Nilsen. The Guelph Public Library has a fantastic collections of books to help kids learn about great art and artists.
Celebrate artists birthdays. Make a meal the artist may have enjoyed, check out a few biographies or story books at the library, tack up some images, (watch for calendars and coffee table books at thrift stores and garage sales).
Try your hand at creating just like the masters. Mary Ann Kohl has a fabulous book called Discovering Great Artists (available at the library) which provides a brief biography and then an easily accessible project for kids to try. Make it a family art night.
Visit galleries. There are plenty in Guelph and our experience is that well behaved and interested children are welcome. The owners and curators love to talk about the works they are showing. Macdonald Stewart Art Centre is closed for a summer break at the moment, but it’s a great, easy introduction to visiting an art gallery. There are other local galleries that are always fun to visit. There are always changing shows at the Wellington County Museum featuring interesting local artists. Cambridge has their main gallery in the same building as their library. Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery hosts fabulous Family Sundays that are absolutely worth the trip. Many of the galleries in the Art Gallery of Hamilton are free to visit. And the Art Gallery of Ontario has some excellent family programming and they are currently hosting a Picasso exhibit until August 26.
Play with art. The Internet is full of lessons, games and activities that allow kids to interact and play with art. Try Mr Picasso Head, A Pintura, Art Dective based on the children’s book, or visit the US National Gallery of Art for lots of online art appreciation games and activities. Or check out the toy and book stories, or gallery stores for board and card games about art and art appreciation. Professor Noggins does a History of Art game which you can probably order at Simply Wonderful. There are plenty of card games like these, or board games and puzzles are always fun.
Use the news. There are often art related stories in the news, like this one, which has me checking the rafters in our garage. My kids are fascinated by the idea that one piece of art, never seen before, could be worth so much money.
There is a long list of books on art and art appreciation available at the Guelph Public Library. In addition to the ones mentioned above, these are some of our favourites:
More than meets the eye : seeing art with all five senses by Bob Raczka.
Provides images of paintings and new, sensory ways to experience them, such as tasting the milk in Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid,” hearing the music in Tanner’s “The Banjo Lesson,” or feeling the fur in da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine.”
I spy colors in art devised & selected by Lucy Micklethwait.
I spy with my little eye . . . a yellow circle, an orange orange, two blue eyes staring right back at me! The whole family will delight in exploring fine art through these fourteen glorious paintings, ranging from ancient to contemporary, their artists hailing from all around the globe. Each time you look at one of the colorful canvases in this book-or in a museum-you’re sure to discover another delightful and surprising detail. What a wonderful way to foster a love of art in the youngest of children and to instill an appreciation for close observation and attention to detail. What do you spy? (All of the books in this series are fun for younger kids.)
The Usborne book of art by Rosie Dickins.
Here is the story of western art, told clearly and simply, and illustrated with over two hundred of the world’s greatest works of art. This fascinating book covers it all – from ancient Egyptian tomb decorations to the great masters of European painting, right up to the latest controversies over contemporary art. Throughout the book, there are Internet links to recommended websites where you can view thousands more artworks, find out more about the artists and play art games.
Squeaking of art : the mice go to the museum by Monica Wellington.
Brilliant in color, conception, and execution, Squeaking of Art brings the subject of art to the youngest readers. In this truly child-oriented guide to art appreciation, ten mice pals visit a museum filled with some of the world’s most famous paintings and talk about what they see.Each gallery in the fantasy museum groups paintings by subject, such as pets or music, or by category, such as portraits or landscapes. From Matisses to Mondrians, van Goghs to Vermeers, there are versions of eighty-five paintings from all eras painted in Monica Wellington’s bright and graphic style. Written in a simple yet exuberant way, questions and comments pepper the text and invite children to participate. Part child’s-eye view of a museum and part ode to the inspirational power of great masterpieces, this extraordinary picture book lays the foundation for a lifelong love of art by showing how much fun visiting an art museum can be.
Seen Art? by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.
It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-Third. I didn’t see him. So I asked a lady walking up the avenue, “Have you seen Art?” “MoMA?” asked the lady. “Uh . . . no, he’s just a friend.” “Just down Fifty-Third Street here. In a beautiful new building. You can’t miss it.” When this address turns out to be the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, confusion and hilarity ensue. As the narrator continues looking for Art inside MoMA, he is introduced to well-known pieces of art such as Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Matisse’s The Red Studio, as well as works by Picasso, Klee, Lichtenstein and others. In a dynamic collaboration that features comical text and playful illustrations alongside full-color reproductions of the artwork, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith give readers the perfect companion for a visit to MoMA, and an introduction to some of the world’s best works of modern art.