Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Studies

My children are consistently so artistically creative that it seldom occurs to me to sit down with them for planned art activities. I really love time spent working with them on projects, though, so I've been trying to participate more in their work by planning group activities that will help develop their talents and techniques. All of my children love paint, and in the past we've really enjoyed achieving a resist type look using crayons and Darren's fancy old watercolors. (This particular technique is one I remember from my childhood but is explained in detail here, at one of my favorite websites!)

So, yesterday we got out some supplies and spent some time creating works of art! We recently read A Walk in the Rainforest during our habitat studies, and thought the colorful illustrations were quite lovely, so Dylan and I chose to replicate the vibrant red-eyed tree frog pictured on it's cover. Clearly, my detail oriented mind prohibits me from deviating from the image set before me (my work is pictured above), but I just love the creative liberties that Dylan takes in his own work! Here's his interpretation, Tree Frog at Sunset:

I love it so much! And I am equally charmed by Caitlyn's darling interpretation of a flamingo in the rain. Her artistic abilities have really matured over the past few months and we are always finding the cutest drawings she's left throughout the house! (On paper, thank goodness! Unlike her mommy at the same age, who seemed to think that any large, flat surface was fair game: walls, chairs, pianos...) :)

In addition to actually creating more art, we've also been more diligent in really studying great masterpieces. Last summer, one of the free exhibits at a local museum was "Crime Lab Detectives", in which children collected and examined clues at a mock crime scene to solve the mystery. Dylan and Caitlyn loved it and created their own detective's club, complete with magnifying glasses and notebooks. :)

So, when I found a used copy of this very clever book entitled Art Fraud Detective, I knew it would be a wonderful resource for us! The unique concept of this book is one with which Dylan is completely captivated. As the "detective", the reader must carefully study 34 works of art which have been altered by gangs of forgers and identify which member forged each piece. In so doing, we really have to study these paintings carefully! Even I have been stumped by some of them and we've even had to create a new diagram for ourselves due to oversights we've made the first time around. It's riveting fun that really forces us to appreciate every minute detail of each painting in order to finally solve the mystery! It seems there are at least two other similar books in this series and eventually, I think we'd like to try those, too!

I used to think that art projects were just too much work, but now that the children are a bit older, it really is worth the time and effort to see their creativity flourish! We've kept our decor simple and understated for the duration of Lent, but after Easter I'd really like to dress up our learning room (also known as the dining room) again! I love these cheerful stained glass tissue paper flowers and I think they would be quite lovely for spring!


mom-in-training said...

Your kids are just so artistic - and so are you! I, too, am guilty of not sitting down to do planned art with my children. They draw pictures daily, but we seldom do painting projects and bigger (messier ;) ) crafts. That is really me just being lazy because I know they would have so much fun doing it. And I'd enjoy it, too, if I'd just let myself sit down and participate with them! You've inspired me!!! I also love the sound of that art detective book. How cool! I think my kids would get a kick out of that, too. Thanks for the inspirational post! I might just have to pull out the paints this week! :)


laura said...

Your son seems advanced, so he might enjoy the Blue Balliett books Chasing Vermeer, the Wright Three, and the Calder Game. These are about kids who are 11 and solve art-related mysteries. Great potential for learning about art and architecture. My then 9 yo loved the whole series. And it helps that we live near the Art Institute.