Using Artists Work

Works of art

There is no real substitute for exposing children to original works of art. Despite the fact that there are some really good reproductions available to buy and in some cases, to borrow, nothing can really be a substitute for the experience of sheer scale, texture and just a sense of ‘occasion’ that an art space can give to a work. After viewing art works, children need to be guided in discussion by plenty of open ended questions that promote a more considered use of descriptive vocabulary.

Teachers should aim to introduce new words regularly and then facilitate opportunities where children can consolidate their knowledge both verbally and in written forms if appropriate. While looking at paintings children should be continuously churning questions over in their heads, which will have been planted and cultivated by the guiding light of a teacher over a period of time e.g. What colours have been used? How have they been made? How has the paint actually been put on? Is the surface smooth or rough? Has anything other than paint been used? For children to appreciate and understand what might be considered an artist’s style, they will need to explore areas that include: use of colour, method of application, treatment of background and composition.

These four areas could be tackled in four separate lessons or spread out over a longer period of time. The experimental work could be linked to work in sketchbooks or could from part of a display that demonstrates both process and product. What is critical is providing an opportunity for the children to demonstrate exactly what they have understood about an artist’s style.