As children growing up, most adults were not exposed to fine art or any art at all. The word is relegated to school projects and easy grades. Hence, most of us would rather spend time watching a movie than at an art gallery.
There is little doubt that art and appreciation of it are windows to unlocking creativity in the child. In addition, there are also established health benefits even if one merely looks at pieces of art.
How can parents encourage art appreciation in even little kids?
Start with what you have
If you as a parent have no idea about who Van Gogh is and when the Renaissance started, then you don’t have to force it on your children. You can simply start with your child’s books. Many books, especially those who have won Caldecott awards for illustration, are a treasure trove of wonderful art.
When reading a bedtime story for the umpteenth time, talking about the book’s art can be a breath of fresh air for you and your child. Stare at the drawings together, try to notice things that you like and then talk about it.
Start simple, like taking note if the character is happy or sad. Later on, you can move to more advanced observations such as how the shadow falls. Perspective is also a good point of observation. Talk about how big or small a character or an object is and from where it is being looked at.
Learn about the artists
The availability of material about classical artists today is astounding. Unlike many years ago when the only books you could read about them were in encyclopedias and textbooks, artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso can now be introduced to younger kids through illustrated books, videos, and even computer apps.
By learning about these artists, children as well as adults get a picture of how these artists lived their lives and how their environment possibly shaped how they expressed themselves. It also breeds curiosity about the artist and their body of work, hopefully igniting interest in the child.
Do some fun projects
Put on your artist’s hats and make some projects based on an artist’s work or style. Mind you, your work doesn’t have to be at professional level. Looking at, exploring, and copying one style will open your child’s artistic eyes.
Vincent Van Gogh was known for his paintings of sunflowers. So go put some in a vase and start drawing. Henri Matisse, on the other hand, was known for his collages made of paper cut outs. So, with just a pair of scissors and some colored papers, you can make Matisse-style collages.
Visit Museums and Galleries
Children should learn at an early age that museums are happy places to visit and not just for fulfilling school requirements. Make it a point to visit museums and galleries during weekends. Get to know artists in their exhibits and know a bit more about art.
To make the most out of your museum trips, consider getting year-round passes. Come back once in a while and explore one particular hall at a time for better appreciation.
Fine art appreciation is not something that is unreachable and unknowable for kids. Make it a fun part of their childhood and enjoy admiring artworks together.