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The sun was bright, casting short shadows on the spring afternoon lawn. I’d taken my kindergarten class to the front of the school where a great spirea bush cascaded with blossoms and old trees guarded the entrance. We had brought the supply of hula hoops from the gym and each child chose a spot. They placed their hula hoop on the ground taking in whatever caught their fancy: dandelions, a wandering beetle, or simply lush, long grasses. Then each child sat down to draw what they had captured.

We had been learning about Albrecht Durer, and that morning had discussed his “Great Piece of Turf.” So each child had found his own piece of turf to draw.

Another week, after discussing Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel masterpiece, I taped a coloring page image of one of the sibyls’ faces to the underside of each desk. Then with painting shirts on, newsprint beneath and watercolors carefully set beside them, they lay on their backs and painted.

I love discovering lesser known finds. One of my favorite Van Gogh paintings is his “Weaver Near an Open Window.” The loom is like a cage around him, yet within reach, almost tauntingly, is an open window with a rural scene beyond. Notice the woman in the field that bends in her labor. Her body seems like a reflection of the loom. For children, most art is new. Remember the first time you saw Starry Night? It wasn’t a cliché then, just amazing. What a great excuse to stay up late and star gaze.

I guess I like paintings of peasants. Such as Evening Prayer (The Angelus) by Jean-Francois Millet. Or Johannes Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid.”
Just yesterday I discovered Albert Anker. His work has amazing richness and detail.

Introduce your child(ren) to cubism and Picasso or the world of M. C. Escher. Escher’s pictures can entice them for weeks. (The gallery at this site has his complete works. I had students that were fascinated by the self-portraits in a sphere.)

After learning some basics about paintings such as perspective, focal point, etc. I took a class on a field trip to a local art museum and we found those same elements in various styles. As winter approaches and it seems that there is less we can do outdoors, take your children into the wonderful world of art. Visit libraries and galleries, and check out the affordable art books at Dover Publications.

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