I love exploring abstract art with kids because they’re so naturally good at it. Adults (myself included) get very stuck in their perceptions of things and struggle with it, but the abstract flows so freely from children.
A few weeks back we studied Kandinsky.
Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian artist in the first half of the 20th century. He is credited with creating some of the first works of truly abstract art and is known to many as the father of abstract art.
Kandinsky loved music and color and wanted his work to be about those things above all. He used color to convey emotion rather than actual objects.
We looked at various pieces by the artist online and in books before beginning our own.
When we talk about the works, we discuss various aspects. “Are the colors bright or dull? Do they blend together? What kinds of shapes do you see? Repeating patterns? How about how the lines move?”
We’re not getting terribly in depth here, but we’re starting to introduce the kids to really seeing art and studying it.
I also like to find a video about the artist in question whenever possible. Here are a couple of short youtube videos on Kandinsky to help peak your children’s interest.
The first one held the attention of our little ones well. The second is geared toward a slightly older audience if you have a few older kids in your family or group.
We then cranked up the music (I feel pretty confident Kandinsky would never have worked without it!) got to work on our own Kandinsky inspired pieces.
For the older girls, I gave them a book of Kandinsky’s work that I found at the library and let them choose their own subject to emulate.
The young kids were given “Color Study. Squares with Concentric Circles” as their guide, but I always tell them that they can do something else if they feel like it.
I think it’s important to not put too many rules on art because I never want creating to feel like a chore. It’s about imagination, not rights and wrongs. We talk about the concepts, but then we create in an uninhibited way.
Our medium of choice was watercolor, and we used a combination of liquids, cakes, and watercolor pencils. Having the three different options let them explore various techniques and different ways to manipulate the medium. Each kid had their own thing that they gravitated toward, but they loved dabbling and seeing what they could do.
When choosing art materials for children, I try to choose things that are inexpensive enough that I won’t cringe if they “waste” it with lots of experimenting, while also buying things of high enough quality that they aren’t frustrating or lack-luster to work with.
For example, I think splurging on watercolor pencils is a great idea because there really is a big difference in quality and they hold up well. A mid-grade, heavier weight paper is also a good investment, but it doesn’t have to be the really expensive stuff. On the flip-side of that, Crayola makes great watercolor cakes and your kids will be perfectly happy with cheap tube watercolor paints.
I’m so proud of their end results!
If you’d like to recreate this project at home, you can find all of the materials at your local craft store, or order them through amazon. The links are provided below (aff links)