Brush Strokes of Genius

Brush Strokes of Genius

A child’s grip on a pencil starts out loose, like their understanding of cultures and worlds beyond their own. As they master holding the pencil, drawing basic shapes, and later letters, more and more of the unknown comes into focus. They begin to recognize the semi-circular shape of an Iranian mosque’s dome. They are familiarized with the square shape of mosaic tiles in Roman churches. The muscles in their hands know what it’s like to write out characters, the same ones that Shakespeare used to assemble his sonnets. Via these examples, we see how motor skills underlie art, which is a vehicle of cultural exchange. While we at Little Pim often emphasize learning languages as a means of cultural exposure, we want to use this post to highlight learning motor skills as a perfect time to introduce your children to different cultures through art. Accordingly, below is a list of artists from around the world who can inspire activities that will reinforce your children’s motor skills, cultural awareness, and familiarity with art as a tool of self and cultural expression.

Piet Mondrian

tate-museum
*Courtesy of the Tate Museum
  • Dutch
  • 1872-1944
  • Was initially a teacher who painted on the side
  • Started out as a landscape painter
  • Was heavily influenced by the geometric shapes and simplicity of the cubist movement in Paris, where he moved
  • Met Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesberg, who helped him develop his most famous artistic style, which highlights the beauty underlying simple shapes and primary colors

A child just learning motor skills requires a great deal of concentration just to bring these simple shapes to life. Resultantly, they have a heightened appreciation for them, an appreciation that Mondrian relearned. Your child might thereby be able to relate to an important figure in Dutch culture.

Activity

Ask your children to draw 10 dots at random locations on a piece of paper. Then, have them connect one dot to each of the others on the paper with straight lines. (Use a ruler if straight lines are difficult for them.) Repeat for the other 9 dots. The result is a very cool geometric pattern. Take out primary color markers, colored pencils, or crayons and have them fill in the shapes as they see fit. With that, you have a Mondrian inspired piece ready to be hung on the fridge.


Niki de Saint Phalle

  • French
  • 1930-2002
  • Was a sculptor, painter, and film maker, most widely revered for her monumental sculpture work
  • Had no formal art training
  • Was first recognized for angry, battered works that mirrored emotions associated with a troubled childhood
  • Developed a whimsical, joyous artistic style, child-like in its bright color palette

 The fun, quirky nature of these pieces will appeal to your child’s innate happiness and creativity. Let their curiosity take over upon asking what the sculpture below on the left represents.

art-for-kids
*Courtesy of artnews.com

Activity

 

Break out the colorful Playdough for this activity! Show your child images of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures and let the fun ensue. You can suggest rolling out small segments of different colored dough and connecting them to make a multi-colored snake, which is what I see in the sculpture on the left.


Joan Miró
*Courtesy of joan-miro.net

Joan Miró

  • Spanish
  • 1893-1983
  • Painter, sculptor, ceramicist
  • Was classically trained in art school but rejected traditional methods and styles later in life, claiming they were created to appease the rich, who commissioned the works
  • Was also inspired by cubism and moved to its epicenter, Paris
  • Classified as a surrealist, who allowed his subconscious mind to take control of his hands

The abstraction of Miró’s pieces reinforce to your children that there is no such thing as perfection, especially in art. It is all about personal perspective and emotions. Encourage them to make “mistakes” and try something wacky in their own pieces.

Joan Miro
An Alexander Calder mobile inspired by Joan Miró *Courtesy of markwhitefineart.com

Activity

Grab a few hangers from the closet, thread/yarn from the sewing kit, scissors, and construction paper. You now have all the tools necessary to make your very own mobile, like the one above on the right, perfect for a younger sibling’s room. Snip the hook off of a hanger; that is how you will be able to hang the mobile. Then, cut a few straight pieces of wire from several hangers. Twist them to attach them to the hook. Splay them out in different directions. Afterwards, cut some pieces of thread/yarn and knot them onto the end of the wires. Go crazy cutting out awesome shapes from the colorful construction paper. Pierce a hole and knot the other ends of the threads into the construction paper cutouts. Boom! Your very own Miró inspired mobile!

 


wang-guangyi
*Courtesy of artnet.com

Wang Guangyi

  • Chinese
  • Born 1957
  • Still alive today
  • Went to art school after many failed attempts at college entrance
  • Heavily inspired by the Chinese Cultural Revolution
  • Internationally acclaimed for the “Great Criticism,” which were paintings on top of traditional propaganda
    • Ended the series in fear that its fame undermined its very message, which was that political and commercial advertising is manipulative
  • Continued with political criticism of VISA’s

While less child-like in its appearance than the works of the aforementioned artists, Guangyi is unfiltered and unapologetic for his opinions in his art, just as a child is before he or she is molded to fit into a society that values conformity.

Activity

Let your children make a statement with this next piece of art.  Suggest to your children that they draw how they feel about their least favorite food. See how their emotions translate into art.

Does your child have a newfound love of art after trying some of these activities? If so, check out our most recent Where to Go Wednesday below for a list of ridiculously cool sculpture gardens in New York:

*featured image by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash