Sunday, 26 August 2012

Great books to teach Art to Kids

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up." ~ Pablo Picasso

There are so many different ways to introduce art to children, bringing art into every day life through colour, critical perception and appreciation of every day objects, nature, visiting galleries and of course books.  I love taking my children to galleries and have tried to surround them with art, my own, the art of others and their own creations.   Books are a great way to bring visual art into a child's life and a wonderful conduit for delivering a message, telling a story or conveying an idea.  Visual arts and movement can be wonderful tools for learning all sorts of things.

There are picture books from my childhood that made a big impression on me and that imagery still lives somewhere in my psyche as a formative part of who I am.  Of course these will not be the same as yours or the person beside you and likely not even my own children but they resounded with me and no doubt many others, books like The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek and Where the Wild Things Are, Gorilla and The Tiger That Came to Tea.  So many more books that I read over and over with my own children will no doubt have a similar effect on them and be remembered and shared.  There are just too many great books but I am just going to make a start.

 A great book that explores movement through a collection of the collage creations made by Henri Matisse toward the end of his life after he was diagnosed with cancer.  He called this process of painting on paper, cutting out and sticking the cut outs together 'drawing with scissors'.  Matisse was primarily famous for his paintings, also producing numerous famous drawings and sculptures but his most identifiable pieces are his cut outs.  He published a book of these cut outs called Jazz, which you might be able to find second hand or pick up new for about $100.  I will be using this book as an introduction to Matisse and collage. Henri Matisse Cut Outs is a great place to print some of the cut outs from Jazz and other collections.  Matisse can be used to introduce children to fauvism, modernism and impressionism.
Yoshitomo Nara has produced masses of fantastic cartoon like whimsical imagery of children and animals and is grouped as a Neo Pop Artist. His paintings are bright, happy and fantastic and The Lonesome Puppy is filled with page after page of this cute duo as Nara tells their story of loneliness and friendship.  There are so many ways to introduce Pop Art.  You can get down to the roots of Pop Art and start by appreciating the aesthetics of every day imagery or use one of the many Pop Art filters on your own portraiture photo's to make an Andy Warhol inspired piece.  Neo Pop Art is a postmodern art form made up of contemporary artists influenced by the Pop Art movement.
Marc Chagall is responsible for some of the most beautiful dreamscapes which you can use to inspire your little person. This colouring book steps through the life and works of Chagall prompting your child with questions about the pieces of art it contains. Chagall can be used to introduce children to surrealism and expressionism.
Dog's Night takes place in a the National Gallery and features a selection of famous paintings from various times, art movements and artists.  On dog's night all the dogs break free of their two dimensional cages and are free to roam, tumble, fight and play the night away in the large halls of the National Gallery London.  This is a great book for introducing children to some famous pieces of art with a common theme, all have dogs in them.  This became an instant gallery game for us with my children searching through paintings for dogs that come free of their paintings when dog's night comes around.
Jan Van Eyck Renaissance art, 15th Century.
Georges Seurat Pointillism, late 19th Century.
Thomas Gainsborough, 18th Century British Art.
Francois-Hubert Drouais, 18th Century French Art.

Olivia is great for young children as the style of modern artist Jackson Pollock is very accessible to budding artists.  Olivia visits the gallery with her mother and muses over Degas' Ballet Rehearsal on the Set before deciding there is some art she just doesn't get and figures she can try her own rendition of Pollock's Autumn Rhythm #30.
Jackson Pollock can be used to introduce abstract impressionism.  Edgar Degas can be used to introduce children to impressionism.

Miffy the Artist takes us on a trip to the gallery with Miffy to enjoy some very Miffy versions of modern art.  Then back home where she puts her inspiration behind creating her very own exhibition.  This is great to inspire a flurry of artistic activity with the aim of creating your child's very own art exhibition.
This is a very simply and enjoyable book.

Sophie Scott goes South follows Alison Lester's trip to Mawson Station as an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow through the eyes of Sophie Scott, eleven year old daughter of the Aurora Australis' captain. The book is written as Sophie's diary, tracking her trip to Antarctica, and full of drawings done by children who were corresponding with Alison via email during her six week voyage. The photos, art works and story are fantastic inspiration and a wonderful introduction to Antarctica. This book forms a good basis for trying your hand at drawing your own albatross, penguin, 'Aurora Australis', seal, whale, icebergs or snow storm using dot painting technique.
Introduce your child to aboriginal dot painting technique.

Niki Catalano is an Australian artist and illustrator who has produced this gorgeous story and colouring book for LaLaLand. Wonderful to let your child loose on with pastels or textas.   If you are using pastels make sure you have also bought some workable fixative otherwise this will be a very messy book to read through again.
Introduce your child to pastels and smudging. 

Round Trip is a fun way book that leads into a great lesson plan exploring positive and negative space.  Combine this with collage to create fantastic black and white pictures with your child.  Negative space is like silence in a piece of music it's space without content that can make an image stand out or direct your eye to a particular point in the art work.
Introduce your child to positive and negative space.

Rene Magritte features in this story as a dog who finds his muse in a extraordinary hat. Very cute introduction to the works of Magritte.
Introduce your child to surrealism.

"Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." —Rene Magritte

Shaun Tan is an amazing illustrator with magical stories carrying messages of isolation, social disassociation, magic, mystery and the less ordinary to be seen all around for those who want to pay attention.  The Arrival was my first Shaun Tan book and we haven't stopped collecting every published work, including the animated adaptation of the Lost Thing. 
His drawings are pure inspiration, create your own lost thing from whatever you can find in hard garbage or a trip to your local recycling shop or antique store. 
Introduce your child to sculpture, pencil drawing.

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