In the months since Miss 6 finished her science unit, we have taken quite a bit of a rest. There has been minimal bookwork, no excursions, and lots of cuddles on the couch. The reason has been the birth of our latest and last beautiful little girl. All of our big girls have been very involved in following the pregnancy, as well as helping to look after our new little squishy. While traditional learning has been put on the back burner, I think the life lessons that have come with our new addition, have been invaluable (and the photo is purely for attention 😀 )
During the last month of my pregnancy, and the two months since the birth of little squish, Miss 6, as well as Miss 4, have been doing an art unit. I have a minor background in art, and it was the easiest way I could think to maintain some kind of schooling, while not having to go anywhere, or exert my mind or body! My focus was to introduce the girls to a few artists, as well as offering language and vocabulary associated with the visual arts. I also tried to engage them in lessons that would help the girls to think about things like composition and expression in their art. One thing I did notice, was that Miss 6s tendency to perfectionism was difficult for her to deal with in this unit. A lot of lessons were plagued with frustrations and, in some cases, tears, because she didn’t feel that her work “looked good” or was good enough. There was a lot of talking her through the task, and encouragement to keep going, needed. For this reason, I tried to stick to the more modern, abstract and impressionistic art, where the works are not super real depictions, and therefore less pressure to make it look perfect. But for the most part, Both of my Misses thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And to keep it real, my own taste in art lies in this area as well, so it was easy for me to keep them excited, because I was excited also!
Initially the girls did a week of “warm ups”, where they learned to pick out aspects of art like *line, *shape, *size, *tone, *texture, *light and *colour. Once they were comfortable identifying these aspects, I showed them different artists. I had them look at the artworks by the particular artist. While looking at them, we talked about what we could see, how it made us feel, what we thought the artist was thinking or feeling. We talked about cultural and historical context and how it influenced the artworks, and the girls selected a few “aspects of art” that they could easily point out. Once this was done, the girls created their own piece of art in the style of the artist we had been talking about.
The first artist we looked at was Pablo Picasso. I drew various mismatched facial features and cut them out. The girls selected and created their own faces and then coloured them in with oil pastels.
The second artist we looked at was Paul Cezanne. This was my first and only attempt at a more traditional style of art. The girls practiced with tone and shape, to try and create their own Still Life. Miss 6 struggled with the realist style to the point of tears. With much encouragement she did finish her art work. But I think her lack of enthusiasm and her frustration can be seen in the finished product. I love the visual arts, and I want to foster a love for them in my children, so for the sake of keeping it fun and interesting, it was here that I decided to only attempt the more abstract pieces.
After Cezanne, I introduced the girls to Frida Kahlo. Kahlo is one of my favourite artists, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to share her story with them. Miss 6 enjoyed this lesson very much. Kahlos work is bright and bold enough to appeal to her aesthetically, and her story is brave and tragic enough to appeal to Miss 6 emotionally. I had the girls look in the mirror and try to draw their own self portrait. They liked the beautiful gardens and exotic animals in Kahlos paintings, and asked if they could make up their own backgrounds. Of course they could! My crazy, whimsical Miss 4 drew a background with a pirate ship and herself jumping on the moon 😀 and Miss 6 drew the Eiffel Tower in the background, because she wants to go to Paris someday.
The next lesson was on impressionist artist Claude Monet. And really, what’s not to love, if you’re a little girl? Pretty pastel colours, beautiful fairylike landscapes, secret gardens with water lilies and foot bridges. The girls drew their water lilies and bridges and gardens with oil pastels and then applied a wash of watercolour in cool shades.
Wassily Kandinsky is another one of my favourite artists, and one that the girls have been exposed to many times before. I had intended to show the girls Jackson Pollock, but Miss 6 actually asked for Kandinsky. I figure Pollock isn’t going anywhere, so we did Kandinsk instead! There was lots of cutting and pasting and shapes and colours and colouring, and this was a fairly independent activity for them.
The last lesson was on Andy Warhol. We talked about Pop art and Pop culture and the girls giggled their heads off at most of Warhols art. I took a photo of each of the girls, and then printed them out and had the girls colour over the top. During this lesson Miss 6 declared “I love modern art, Mummy. It’s so much fun!”
Fortuitously, while we were doing our unit on art, one of the movers and shakers of our local homeschooling community organised an art exhibition for the children in Miss 6s general age group (K-2). So using what they had learned Miss 4 and Miss 6 created a major artwork to exhibit at one of Perths local libraries. The exhibition opened today, in line with Bookweek 2017. The theme this year is Escape to Everywhere. So the children created their art with this theme in mind. Miss 4 recalled the family trip to Mauritius, and decided she wanted to “escape” back to the island to see the coral reefs. She used the same technique of oil pastels with a watercolour wash, to create her under the sea artwork. She entitled it “The Ocean”.
Miss 6 had so many fabulous ideas, that making an actual decision proved very difficult for her. She became so overwhelmed that she refused to do anything. This prompted her father and I to have discussions with her around commitments and following through with something, when you tell someone you will do it. There was a minimum number of participants required for this exhibition to be viable. So it was important that Miss 6 recognised that her friends were relying on her to follow through with her artwork, in order for them to exhibit their own. Finally – during her lesson on Andy Warhol – Miss 6 made her decision. She had fallen in love with Pop Art, and wanted to do an escape to Paris, in this style. We found a photo of the Eiffel Tower, and printed off ten copies. Miss 6 then coloured them, cut them out and mounted them.
We’ve had a very lovely, slow paced, restful, arty, (baby snuggling), couple of months. Now we are back into the swing of things, the bookwork has come out again, and Miss 6 has chosen her new unit, Around the World. She wants to learn about different countries, where they are, how they live, and what they eat. She has made me promise we will find a recipe, from each country she has chosen, and cook it.
In the meantime, if you live in Perth, and you’re in the vicinity of the Karrinyup Public Library, between now and the 27th August, drop in and see the exhibition!