A journey with children is much like a walk on a path. There are many things to discover along the way, and there are multiple junctions, crossroads and turns. The children direct which turn to take – if I pay attention.
Today we began learning about art in depth. It was a terrific start! When we read a book later that morning, the path turned. Boy, did it ever turn. Let me start at the beginning:
We looked at major pieces of art, again. One look is never enough. The more we look, the more we see, and the more questions we have. Children were struck by the art of Kandinsky, especially the piece above. I slowly panned major works of art to the children, only announcing the title and the artist.
Large Blue Horses, by Franz Marc
Haystacks, by Claude Monet
Tiger in a Storm, by Henri Rousseau
The Three Musicians, by Pablo Picasso
and on and on…
Can you see in your mind what was happening? Can you feel a tiny ping of excitement? The children could. Art speaks for itself. I didn’t need to say a word.
Then I showed children real artist paints – in tubes! I showed them a palette and brushes. My teaching partner donned a beret and demonstrated how to squeeze out the paint on a palette, and use a brush with water. Since the children liked Kandinsky’s painting, that’s what she painted:
It was fascinating to watch. Children were rarin’ to go. They were empowered to create a masterpiece. And they knew it would take many days. A masterpiece is never created in only one day. Day one of art had started.
After painting and feeling very satisfied, it was time to clean up and sit down for a story before lunch. Since the art of Kandinsky was popular, I read The Noisy Paintbox, The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock. Highly recommended!
The story begins with Kandinsky, a proper Russian boy, getting a paint box from his aunt. As he paints, the colors make beautiful sounds. He paints the music he hears. Now, if this sounds odd to you, it makes perfect sense to children. They understand. Perhaps we can all learn more from children, or from artists.
At the point in the book where Kandinsky is a grown man, and has forgone his art (because it didn’t conform to ‘proper art’), he goes to the opera. That awakens his art. He heard the colors singing. He saw the music dancing.
“Jennie, what is opera?”, asked a child.
Well, isn’t that the best question I could have heard? We knew about a symphony orchestra, but not an opera. Yes, I explained an opera. Better yet, I pulled up an Italian opera on YouTube, La bohème.
The children were so struck with the music that they stood up. They watched the singers. They listened. No one moved! No one made a sound!
I whispered to myself, “These children are three and four years old. I’m showing them a video of La bohème, and they’re enthralled, transfixed. They love this!”
Art should make you feel. Like music. -Vasya Kandinsky-
It was a wonderful day. Stay tuned for more!