Parents Creatively Teaching Kids About Art: Going Where Snowman Has Gone Before
For seven years, I was on the planning committee of a wonderful art appreciation program in my sons’ school called Art Parent, which designed one-hour-a-month classroom visits from parents to teach students about specific artists or art styles. Unfortunately, this program is now defunct, having been voted out by teachers who currently find themselves scrambling for time to cover all of the basics required for the insane number of standardized tests that the kids have to take each year.
Frankly, while I understand the teachers’ plights, I think it’s such a shame that a valuable program like this has been dismissed. I know the students’ minds and hearts were enhanced by it, and have even witnessed my son, Logan, buzzing in and answering Scholastic Bowl questions correctly based on his knowledge from past Art Parent lessons that he otherwise wouldn’t have known.
Every summer, as Art Parent committee members, we’d get together and toss ideas around about what new artists or art techniques we wanted to share with the students during the school year along with the corresponding art projects.
I so enjoyed the creativity of those meetings. Very little was off limits, which is incredibly rare in a world full of excessive rules and regulations.
One year we decided to have the kids drip and splatter their way to creating colorful Jackson Pollock canvasses that we then mounted to the cafeteria wall: a daunting proposition to be sure! Since we were working under a really tight budget, we saved money wherever we could, including constructing the frames and stretching/painting the base coat of the canvasses on my basement floor. We then laid the canvasses down in a schoolroom and let the kids have at it with paint sticks, turkey basters, and even eggbeaters to create unique patterns. They were enthralled, and frankly, so were we.
Pictured below is my friend, Mary Edda, giving the artist overview to the kids: relaying information bytes such as where Pollock lived, what he was like as a child, what inspired him, the techniques he used, what he saw in his art and various ways of interpreting it. When she spoke, everyone listened!
Here’s a young Pollock wannabe in action.
At this point, the canvasses were completed, and were drying. No major paint spills – PHEW! Each canvass represented a different grade in the K-5 grade school.
To give you an idea of the size of these suckers, those are someone’s legs sticking out of the bottom in the photo below. The older the class, the larger the frame. This was the 5th graders’ work of art.
Here’s an actual Pollock painting.
Photo courtesy of: wikiart.org
We also did a lesson plan on Dale Chihuly, the famous blown glass artist from Washington state, and had the kids blow up balloons to replicate one of Chihuly’s works of art. This massive balloon waterfall sculpture, that was hung from a second story balcony, greeted parents as they walked in for Open House along with a sign informing them about the sculpture as well as about Chihuly. You may have seen some of his work on the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas or in other venues.
And here’s the real deal: a blown blue glass Chihuly masterpiece.
Photo courtesy of: Halcyon Gallery
Because I participated in Art Parent program development for so many years, it’s second nature to me now to start scoping out new art forms or interesting artists during the summer. I tend to file a list of would-be lesson plans away in a personal corner of my brain, with no place to share it.
Until now, that is!
Despite the fact that you most likely weren’t sitting around over coffee yesterday lamenting that your life has been bereft of new artists and art forms, you’re going to get a small dose of them right now!
One of the things we liked to introduce, as you can see by the examples above, was art that employed various media. Typically, when we think of art, a mental image of a static, framed painting on a wall comes to mind. And while that type of art is fantastic, and we covered plenty of it in the Art Parent program, there are so many other fringe media that we don’t usually even consider.
For example . . .
What about flower art? Isn’t this cool?
Photos courtesy of 3-D First Aid Visual Architecture
Giving the kids a pile of silk flowers to arrange in a vase of their choice and setting them off in groups of four, letting their little imaginations run wild would be way cool! What turns an ordinary flower arrangement like this . . .
. . . into extraordinary works of art, like these?
Photo courtesy of: theflowershipgaineville.com
Or how about introducing them to amped up balloon animal art?
I mean, this is what we were used to as kids when it came to balloon animals. Your basic, lame-o wiener dog that wasn’t really even worth the ear-splitting, eye-squinting squeaks involved in fashioning it, yet we thought it was magical.
The latex masterpieces below take balloon squeaking to a whole new level. Like the tip of the Sears tower antenna level.
This “American Gothic” interpretation has been labeled “airigami” by the artist, or “the art of folding air.”
Photos courtesy of: mnn.com
How much fun would the kids have watching a video of the artist at work making one of these and then trying their hand at it as well? Sure, they’d probably end up with the wiener dog, but at least they’d know that a lot of practice could one day yield a gorgeous goat.
Then there’s this new, unique art from Alexa Meade, where she paints live people’s bodies to look like they’re paintings.
Photo courtesy of: pulptastic.com
And let’s not forget about sand sculpting marvels . . .
Photos courtesy of: Pinterest.com
. . . the art of calligraphy . . .
. . . and origami handiwork from Spencer’s homemade creations that I love to glance up at in my office, to pieces artfully displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. . .
. . . the artistry required to develop magical fairie gardens solely out of repurposed and recycled materials . . .
Photos courtesy of: recycledawblog.com
. . . or maybe even Lego art.
Photo courtesy of: ibtimes.co.uk
. . . including these Lego masterpieces currently on display at Chicagoland’s Morton Arboretum.
Photo courtesy of: ddandpexy.com
Frankly, the running list I’m unwittingly gathering in my head goes on and on.
Artists are exploring new media all of the time, new artists are emerging as the latest and greatest talents of our time, and my mind is continually dazzled.
Thanks for standing in as my surrogate class today.
I feel so much lighter now that some of my cerebral artistic storage units have been temporarily purged!