Before we start today, I just want to say that although the focus is on artists today, you could use the same set up for exploring the lives of anyone, scientists, explorers, writers, composers…whoever!
It does take a bit of planning, but it is worth it. I usually do it in an evening, make some notes and line up some suitable videos.
How To Plan An Art Day
We often have days where we concentrate on one artist and learn as much about them as possible in the day – sometimes we break it into sections and do it over the course of the week instead, it all depends on our schedule at the time.
Obviously from the thousands of lessons I have planned over the years, this comes easily to me but I know not everyone out there has got teaching experience!
Before The Day
- Decide on the artist
- Find some books (buy or borrow)
- Find some suitable Youtube videos – this can be time-consuming but you can usually tell in the first few minutes if it is some boring old fart droning on about Picasso’s brushstroke or whether it is presented in a more child-friendly and interesting way.
Don’t rule out things like The Discovery Channel documentaries, although it might not be aimed at kids, depending on the child’s age they might be totally into it.
- Get together any art materials you might need
- Are you going to eat like the artist? What will you need?
- Check out the local galleries, anything that might be useful to your day (or in our case often a visit to the gallery kicks off the interest to learn more)
It is a good idea to include the child in the process, talk about the day you are going to have, what you will need and how exciting it’s going to be. Muster the interest factor before you even start.
Not All About The Art
To understand why the artist painted why they did, often we need to look at other factors, where they lived, the political and economic situation at the time, their personal journey, what they loved and what they hated, the art movement at the time etc.
And you can bring elements of the day or project into that. It also helps the child get a better understanding and because it’s not textbook teaching, they are more likely to remember and enjoy it!
Starting off with a brainstorm is a good way to get the ball rolling, there is a PDF printable below with questions that you can use.
For younger children you can work through it together, those who are reading and writing can do it as part of their research.
Download the PDF HERE
Plan Your Day
Breakfast – what would your artist typically have eaten?
Read a book or two about the artist – ask open-ended questions
Watch a program – again, invite discussion, what was strange, what was interesting?
Take a break – what would your artist have as a snack?
Move your body – after doing quiet work, kids need to burn off some energy so have a play outside or do something to get the wiggles out
Lunch – What would your artist eat for lunch?
Create – what kind of techniques is your artist famous for, have a go, produce your own artist inspired artwork.
Pop art is fun for kids, Warhol, Haring etc. Bright colours and easy to re-create their own versions.
Pollock is a good one for little artists lacking in confidence plus it is a LOT of fun throwing paint around (OK, this isn’t the cleanest of ideas!).
Try taping paper to the underside of the table for your Michael Angelo day and then get your child to paint.
Don’t forget sculpture too, lots of open-ended ideas there.
Most of all MAKE IT FUN!
By trying out different techniques the child will realize that maybe they are not great at drawing animals but they rock at producing fun pop art.
Put on a show – put all the artwork up on display, take photos and share on Facebook with grandparents and other family members (and me!)
Dinner – what would your artist typically eat for dinner? Dinner time is a good time to go over what you have learned over the course of the day, discuss what you have done, what was good and what wasn’t (aching arms from painting under the table!)
Your child might want to make a booklet about the day or they might be happy to leave it as is.
Of course, you could add other things in or skip bits. For it to be meaningful, you need to present the artist first so the child understands where you’re going and do the artwork after once they have an understanding of the artist.
If you plan an art day, tag me over on Instagram (@jojoebi) I love to see what you have been up to.
And don’t forget, to make the most out of your visits to galleries and museum, grab yourself a copy of The Gallery And Museum Survival Guide For Parents, available on Amazon and all good book sellers.