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Painting In The Style Of...


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Saw this poem (and attached article) in Early Years Edcuator, and thought that it fitted nicely with the worksheet discussion on another part of the forum...The poem and article are both by Peter Dixon.

 

The Raising of Standards

 

It always amazes me to see hundreds of children painting ponds they’ve never seen, smelt, touched or fallen into. Why paint ‘in the style of’ anyone? Why not paint in the style of THEMSELVES? (As Monet did…)

 

Today I copied my third Monet Water Garden

and tomorrow I will complete

The Bridge at Arles,

a Miro,

two Braques,

and possibly the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

 

I will then copy A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Beethoven’s Fifth

and Tchaikovsky’s 6th…

 

After dinner Lisa Miles

and me –

might make our first scaling

of the North Face of the Eiger

with Wayne Dorkins

 

But only if he’s finished

his Last Supper.

 

The_Raising_of_Standards_article.doc

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Food for thought!

 

I must say, we look at paintings, discuss what we see and what we like, then I ask the children to paint me a picture. I do leave the painting there, but really don't mind what they produce, so long as they've enjoyed it! The real purpose was to expose them to something interesting in order to discuss what we might appreciate, or not, as the case may be.

 

Our last subject was 'Rain, steam and speed', by JMW Turner, one of my very favourite artists. It was amazing to hear some of the comments made, and I was also hugely amused by a child who said it just looked wet and gloomy(!! - I think he'd got the point completely!) The paintings the children produced were brilliant, and are proudly displayed in the Reception area - none of them look like the original, but remembering the conversations we had, I can see where most of them have been inspired.

 

I so hope my approach isn't 'wrong', because we have such great conversations!

 

Sue

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Personally, I can't make up my mind if I agree or not (not quite so strong feelings as on worksheets!)

 

I can see lots of value in talking about feelings, colours, moods, styles etc, and like others, have actually done this and got outstanding comments from young children, but I guess what the poet is saying is that as the children have not experienced these things, how will they know how to respond to it?

 

It is easy to attempt to 'copy' a picture when presented with the exact same colours as the original artist, but what is the reasoning behind it? Is it a result of a long topic on artists and different styles or the use of colour (then why shouldn't the children be allowed to do their own representation?) or is it, as the writer implies, to decorate the corridor before parent's evening?

 

It's definitely food for thought!

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We have a whole school art week where each year group looks at the work of a different artist - higher up the school they use the artist for all areas of the curriculum - though we tend to do a sketchy biography and then follow up creative activities. We looked at the work of Jack Pollock and looked at some photos of him working. The children thoroughly loved the week. Good excuse for working large scale and co-operatively outside to produce huge pieces of art. The children also really surprised me with what they could see in Pollock's work. The finished masterpieces went on display with photos of the children at work - splashing, flicking and dribbling paint around, and riding the bikes over one piece to add different texture/patterns. All children were able to achieve - in fact one parent commented that if the work was hung in an art gallery nobody would know it was produced by 4 and 5 year olds (funnily enough though she didn't take me up on my offer to sell it to her :o )

 

As Susan says, if children are getting lots of other creative experiences I can't see the harm - as long as your not asking them to simply try and copy the original.

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i know they are only young but isn't it also a bit about broadening their horizons? isn't it a bit about culture/artists and understanding the world of art?

 

I feel it is a great way to introduce children to the wonderful art that is around ...I don't think I would ever ask the children to reproduce a painting, it is merely an opportunity to celebrate an artist's work and then have an opportunity to create something individual that comes from their personal interpretation of the picture, that's the amazing aspect of this activity, the way we all feel about art can be quite different from the next person, boosting that self-expression and promoting identity.

 

Well that's what I think anyway

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As I read running bunnies response, and others comments, I thought, I agree, I can't make up my mind either, I have read articles in N W on different artists and how to plan to inspire my preschool children yet never got around to it because I didn't feel I knew enough about the artist myself, let alone expect the children to.

Then I read Harricrofts response and thought yes, great experiences BUT do the children need to be introduced to a 'classic artist' to be able to then have the opportunity to experience the activities they did, Why do they need such inspiration? can't they have these opportunities as standard, and not based on a 'topic' of 'famous artists' ( don't get me wrong harricroft, just how I have perceived it in the context of what we offer children in general, everyday). Let the style and methods come AFTER the skill of self expression, in whatever form they choose to use and feel confident with.

 

A different slant, as a student I was always getting told off for using too many "quotes" from theorists in my assignements. My argument was that if I wrote what I wanted to say without the theorists, I would be saying the same as the theorists but my words would not be recognised, even if they did have the same meaning as a 'quote'. This made me feel inferior because I totally understood and agreed with what the theorists said, thus able to find the correct quotes ( in correct context) but because I was just me and not a recognised 'expert' I didn't feel able to write more of me and less of them, thus too many quotes. ( if you see what I mean :o )

 

Let children express themselves, I think Peter Dixon is saying, without having to first learn about, copy, interpret, follow, be impressioned by, famous artists. the childrens work is, or should be as valuable or even more valuable than any famous artists style or expession. just because, it is unique, it is expression at its most innocent and untouched by 'outside influence'.

 

Peggy

 

...............just like a young persons squiggle is equivalent to an older persons novel. the depth of meaning in the mark making is the same to both.

 

peggy

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to introduce children to art is a wonderful thing but to ask them to reproduce the works of the great artists i dont think opens the childs mind to imagination and their own creative interpretation. to introduce the children ti fine art is something they can carry with them throughout their childhood. i have the anholts artists books firm favourites with the children i have a eight year old child who developed a love of art in the nursery at three and still tells me that one day he is going to go and see little marie by edgar degas and still his favourite bedtime story is degas and the little dancer.

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I went to parents evening with Richard last night, he's in yr9. All his teachers gave glowing reports about his achievments and attitude so I was intrigued when his art teacher said she has concerns abut him. It turns out he doesnt like art which to me wasnt a huge surprise (or worry). She showed me a piece of papier mache work he'd done, which, granted was really awful and made me giggle, but it was her comments which really caused me to play the mom card, 'I know him better than you do'.

 

She said ' I am the teacher, I teach. I know how to do these things because I've done them before. You have to listen to what I'm telling you so you can do it too'. Very creative lesson then!

I was really on my high horse by this point and had to tell her that while he might not be good at art I was aware he had strengths in history, english, maths, PE, RE and science and that I was more than happy with his progress, he has a real passion for some subjects which he's going to carry on into GCSE. She said it's the law that all students do art until the end of yr9 and he has to too. I replied that I realsie that but it would be hard to be good and interested in every subject. She said she allows talking if it's about the work, to which Richard replied that he does talk about the work, but she dismissed him with the comment ' Oh you think so'.

I realise that having a class of 20 odd 13/14 yrs cant be easy but her whole attitude made me see how he has no interest in the lesson. He told her he likes drawing, and that he'd really enjoyed some drawing work they'd done recently, but not the 3D stuff and this made her say 'well theres more to come'.

If Richard had a huge desire to become an artist, I would doubt that she would inspire him to follow it. Her whole attitude was 'I know best'.

The piece of papier mache has pride of place in our house at the moment, it was supoosed to be a gargoyle but looks like a black dish with 2 lumps in the middle. Well done Richard. :D

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Love the quote. Have a variety of thoughts and feelings on this one.....

 

In the past i have displayed copies of famous artists work (at child level) because I believe children should have an asthetically pleasing environment and because they are beautiful, interesting, thought provoking and provide opportunities to prompt conversation. Often so much to notice and comment on in old classic paintings (Turner type). Also work like Miro, Pollock etc. shows that, yes, splashes, sploshes, dots and lines ARE beautiful art, not just scribbles, and deserve to be framed, displayed and appreciated.

 

However, I also totally agree with 'Dixon' and the quote has made me reflect on how I will approach displaying artists work in future.

I will try to select artists work which has been named - like 'The Snail' so that we can access the 'experience'. So before even introducing a 'Monet', suggest a trip to a stream to paddle in, long grass with poppies to run through etc, to explore, share and talk about - then back to the setting, child gets to self select from a large selection of art materials, with help to reflect on the stream/grass visit via photos and observations, then display alongside their work, how Monet saw the stream, pond, grass.

 

Just thought, now I know why my sons are expert at producing an excellent 'Tracy Emmin' (sp ?) Bed :oxD

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:oxD:( , good sam, very good!!

 

Just to add Rea my daughter's art teacher at parent's evening said that she was disappointed in her work!! I also got on my high horse as my daughter USED to love art and now hates it because of this 'teacher' 's lack of encouragement and negativity towards her work, i celebrate everything she does and I am afraid I have told her her teacher is wrong,!!

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One of the things That's great about the forum is that we get to discuss things like this that really matter to us, and hopefully at the same time have the opportunity to reflect on and sometimes challenge our own views. Maybe after that we alter our view, or maybe, we remain convinced by our view, or tweak it a bit sheer and there.

 

Personally I don't have a problem with painting in a style similar to... as long as children may also express themselves, so that you don't have the 30 identical copies of the same painting. Here's why.

 

I work with many children who have no experience of painting and many other things when they come to us. If you give them paints and tell them t get on with it they may nt have confidence to, and yes we do have children who just simply don't know what to do. What do we spend much of our time doing? Modeling.. we model everything don't we? From conversations to personal relationships to dressing, to how to read a story..etcWhat do children do? They often copy that model.

Sometimes children need that model before they can then have the confidence to go on and create in the style of 'themselves'. Take dance for example. How many of us see young children coming to our setting having learned the latest dance moves to their favourite song? It is often only when they have done that that they then feel they can explore and invent their own moves. Are they wrong to have done that? Are we wrong to have encouraged them to dance out their fav song? Well I don't think so. Equally, if we show a child a style, and they chose to copy it, and then create their own, is that wrong? Not in my opinion it isn't. It might have been just what they needed to begin their own creative journey. How often have we as adults starting something new, want to see what someone else has done first, before we then go and do our own thing?

 

I believe we need to think in terms of balance. No I wouldn't have every art activity based on someone else's work. No I don't expect all the efforts to look the same. No I don't worry if I child ignores what I have offered and does their own thing, and gets wonderfully messy in the process. Yes I would be happy to show children someone else's style if it gives them the confidence to try their own at a later date. Yes I have worked with Kandinski's circles and its been joyous to see the pride of achievement from xyz who has produced 'my bears' (as one child did a few years back, a child who never liked paint and had no confidence to try new things, but when encouraged to have ago, then shrieked with joy as he moved from painting his circles to painting 'my bears'.

 

And no, I wont be stopping using the painting styles of others from time to time.

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Good point well made about the 'modelling' aspect of things - like you say, children have to start their learning somewhere, whether that be from a pop star, parent, nursery nurse, teacher, artist or other 'influence'.

 

Like you, Mundia, I'm glad that topics like this can be discussed as we all have different backgrounds (nursery, playgroup, school to name a few) so are all approaching early years from a slightly different perspective.

 

I think I'll have to canvas the opinion of my work colleagues on this one as it's certainly made me think...

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Good points Mundia, as you say our teaching style is partly based on modelling, balance i agree is crucial, I'd just like to ask What makes children unconfident in trying?

1/ Is it because we ( meaning adults) unconciously or not, express dissatisfaction of their attempts at anything, or expect too much too soon?

2/ or is it just that some children, as unique individuals that they are, just need support in exploring what is new and unfamiliar?

 

We should, I feel be aware of and avoid No 1/ and continue to support No 2/ :D

 

Peggy

 

p.s. This is a good discussion, thanks everyone, and it has helped me to practice 'arguing the critique of my own personal theory' , which is going to be one of my degree modules if I do the degree that I am thinking of doing. :o

 

p.p.s. Glad I read through my posts before pressing 'add reply' I had misspelt and written "our teaching style is partley based on medelling, ( fraudulant slip or what??) xD

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Susan, I'm sure I have some photos of our bit of art week somewhere ... will look for them this weekend.

 

Peggy - we do provide a range of experiences, though we hadn't worked co-operatively on such a large scale project yet this year. I was initally a little dubious about presenting an artists work as being a model, (although we talk about illustrations in book often enough), but the children really enjoyed looking at the pictures and could see lots more than I could see (more imagination). Furthermore they enjoyed being 'artists' (I know they are always artists) but the fact that they could produce somethings that was akin to a work in an art gallery/internet site seemed to increase their enjoyment. I can only add that I have a SEN boy in class who will not 'draw/paint' because he knows (in his own mind ... not mine) that his illustrations will not match the reality of what he's trying to illustrate - he was happily splashing, dribbling, flicking with the rest of them and had such a smile on his face throughout the activity that this alone made the exercise worth it.

 

I suppose to some extent (although this isn't the whole picture) it depends on the artist children are given???

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Just to add, my daughter's teacher told her her sketch was 'rubbish' - you know the type I'm sure. My daughter promptly burst into tears! Of course, when the teacher told me about her getting upset she omitted to use the word 'rubbish'.

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Just to add, my daughter's teacher told her her sketch was 'rubbish' - you know the type I'm sure. My daughter promptly burst into tears! Of course, when the teacher told me about her getting upset she omitted to use the word 'rubbish'.

 

That's really not on is it? How can a practitioner say that to a child - and who is the teacher to say that something is rubbish? Which is why I guess the using of art is a good way to get children to express themselves as we all have 'adult' opinions on what is good art and what is rubbish art (I LOVE Miro, but know others that prefer the style of Picasso, for example)

 

Using the models of a famous pieces of art could show children that there is no 'right' and 'wrong' as far as creating pictures is concerned and is what we are trying to get children to understand and explore in the early years. I guess it also helps children to develop their discussion skills to say why they like something and why they don't?

 

Still haven't made my mind up if I agree with the poem or not yet...

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I have found this thread really interesting. I wholeheartedly agree with what Mundia has said.

 

Children don't learn in isolation and we should be exposing children to new experiences, which they then accomodate into their previous knowledge. We do this all the time don't we, from the day they are born? We play games with babies, we copy thier expressions and they copy ours. We teach them rhymes and stories and eventually they will use these as a model for their own made up rhymes and story writing.

They pick up ideas from playing, home, TV, visits, shopping, their peers, everywhere etc. I think we all want to give children really rich experiences and using art is just one of those. Observing all kinds of artistic expression and linking it to their interests feeds their imaginations, and learning new techniques gives them alternative ways of expressing themselves. They need the 'tools' to express their creativity in effective ways as they need the 'tools' for everything else. We wouldn't criticise this if it was learning how to blend phonemes or use a calculator.

I don't think that we should confuse creativity in with complete freedom. A lot of hard work and study is required to be truely creative in whatever field. Think of the tremedous work that goes into a painting- these can take weeks or months to do, and the artist has had years of experimentation and building on the techniques that s/he has learnt from others. The artist evolves the techniques and medium that suits her/him best, and the children need opportunities to begin this process too.

What I don't agree with is 'copying' the actual paintings or models of others with young children as if this is the way it should look. The painting by numbers type of activity. Children can be shown how say Seurat uses the little dabs of paint, or Monet his huge lumps of blended colour or Eric Carle the paint spread in single colours and then cut and collaged, or Raymond Briggs' pencil techniques etc. Children can then be given opportunities to try these out and use them or disgard them as they wish. I think exposing children to good art is fantastic for them- looking at artists, the stories in their work and having a go at these techniques themselves in a supportive environment, can only be a wonderful experience.

What is so magical about young childrens art work is that they rarely have any inhibitions about what they are doing, how they mix media for example. I have frequently been both amazed and delighted at what they have produced, far better than my ideas would have been. Where they do have inhibitions it can be traced back to negative experiences somewhere along the way. The bottom line is that this experience is only as good as the practitioner providing it.

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