Once upon a time, our daughter commented that an artist’s work we saw in a shop wasn’t so great because “it looks like scribbles.” In an effort to try to expand her creativity, it occurred to me that other than the rare kid’s book, there isn’t much out there to explain different kinds of art to kids in a way that makes sense in their little world. I guess kids try so hard to learn how to draw things literally, that it’s difficult for them to understand why anyone would INTENTIONALLY draw something unrecognizable!
We had learned a little about Frida, and how she “painted her dreams.” Then I taught her to “dance” with the paint, like Pollock. Like their work or don’t, but each one of them was important to the history of art for a reason, and I think helping someone else make sense of that reason is a fun challenge.
So I saw another opportunity in Picasso. Picasso was a fine artist, and actually drew quite realistically, but what really set him apart was when he expanded on the idea of breaking up the face into its most basic SHAPES. He also played with the idea of seeing if he could show different perspectives in the same piece. Could she be turned to the side, but also show both of her eyes? What would that look like?
This was fun, because it didn’t take a lot of prep work. When our daughter came home from school, I had a plate full of shapes that I had cut out of construction paper waiting for her, along with some glue.
“Picasso made shapes into faces,” I told her. “Let’s see if we can make a face using only shapes.” So we happily cut and pasted. At first she balked a little. “Your dress looks strange,” she questioned me. “And why are her cheeks two different colors?” Because, my dear, we’re trying to mix things up a bit. Picasso-style.
I told her it didn’t have to be perfect, and it didn’t have to look EXACTLY like the thing you were trying to draw. It was just supposed to be a fun experiment. What would it look like if you used shapes for the eyes instead of drawing them?
She couldn’t help herself, and finished some additional spots in pen. And although she struggled with the need for symmetry, she was able to step out of her comfort zone a bit and enjoyed trying something new.
We left the shape plate on the table, and she created a rabbit the next day. (I KNOW those mismatched ears were killin’ her…)
So, like we did with Pollock and Frida, I showed her a drawing of Picasso I had done, and she drew a body for him. She put him in stripes, gluing little shapes down onto paper, just like we did. And while that may not have been Picasso’s medium, the basic idea is there, I think.
Besides, I think Picasso might have actually had fun with construction paper and glue.
So if you’re looking for a fun kid project that also teaches them about art, give it a try! And I’d love to see what you come up with over on the Facebook page!
(OH! And if you’d like to see more artsy artwork from both me AND the kiddo, I’m on Instagram now!–@busymockingbird. But more about that later…)