Last night I went to a girls' night out event, and we talked about understanding and appreciating art. One of my good friends gave an inspiring presentation on how to expose children to the arts. She had great resources, books, art mediums and more ideas to make art fun for kids. While she was talking, it was hard not to feel excited about the possibilities. But it was hard to feel motivated amidst the guilty fog that rushed over me as I reflected on my art teaching efforts thus far. I experienced a difficult reality check and realized that I was not anxiously engaged in providing learning opportunities involving the arts!
So this morning, after I skimmed the house straightening things here and there... dusting things there and here... throwing things away way out there... the kids emerged from the play room tired of their Legos and each other. They were literally on the verge of driving each other absolutely crazy, and I knew the peace in our home was on its way out the door. What is the antidote to such behavior you might ask? Easy. The answer was still fresh in my mind. Let's do something creative!
I proposed the plan to the boys, and they were eager to see what I had to offer. We opened up my laptop and googled "famous artists". Familiar names dotted the screen... Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo... but I was drawn to an image by Vincent Van Gogh. You all know the painting. "The Starry Night". It looked simple enough... 4-5 colors to start with... small dashes of paint amongst swirls of yellow and blue. I was surprised when Josh, my 7 year old offered up this bit of art trivia for the rest of us. "Didn't he cut off his ear?" Gotta love the tidbits that embed themselves into the soft brains of kids! It wasn't until after a somewhat gory question and answer session between Josh and my 3 1/2 year old, Caleb, about the "cutting off of the ear process" that we decided that "The Starry Night" was a good choice for our first piece.
I broke out the never-been used artists' watercolor paints. This proved to be a special treat, compared to the familiar Crayola paints, mainly because of the little tray with all the compartments. They really felt like artists with this "fancy" plastic equipment. I set my laptop on the kitchen table for them to use as a guide, and after a quick lesson on how to first dip the brush into the water and then into the paint, Caleb punctured that paint bubble with his dry brush and then doused it in the water! Typical. But eventually he got the hang of it, and our painting "class" was under way.
Hardly a peep escaped from them! They sat side by side discussing each other's painting technique and color choice. And miraculously, the peace between brothers returned, and not even at the expense of one ear!
Here are the results of our first "Artistic Appreciation 101" class.
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