I recently wrote about how I discuss art with Frida, and about our habit of looking at one painting a day and talking about it. I don’t choose which painting we look at, I just pick the next one in the pack, and today it was “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.
I was pleased for two reasons. Firstly, I love Seurat! Looking at his painting brought a little bit of dignified French sunshine to our rainy London breakfast table, strewn with cups of tea and pancake plates. But secondly, my husband had just brought home Katie and the Bathers from the library, a gorgeous book all about exploring Seurat’s paintings.
It is part of James Mayhew’s brilliant Katie series, which we really enjoy. In each book, Katie visits paintings and goes inside them to explore. If you haven’t checked them out I really recommend them.
We read the book, comparing the small card to the bigger pictures in the book, and talked about pointillism, the style of painting with dots and dashes which Seurat used to such beautiful effect. Once we had finished, Frida wanted to paint too. Of course, after reading and talking about pointillism, the next thing to do is to try it!
I propped the book open for her in case she wanted inspiration, she filled up a ramekin with paint (Frida has finger paint in soap dispensers which she can use to pump out paint – you can see them here), and away she went. I noticed that Frida was painting with lots of big dots and splodges – quite different to her usual painting style. The book suggested using the end of a paintbrush to make dots, but she was in flow and I really didn’t want to disturb her or break her concentration.
Process art for young children is so important; by process art, I mean art where the focus is on the creating itself, rather than on what the end result will look like, as opposed to what we might term “product art”. There is no right way to do it, they cannot fail or get it wrong. The focus is on freedom to explore and create, on play and discovery, rather than following rules and techniques to reach a desired end. It is not about teaching children art, but about letting them discover it for themselves (this isn’t to say there is no value in teaching children art skills – there absolutely is – but I think young children need an emphasis on process art, and even older children need a balance).
This is definitely how Frida likes to paint, draw, or otherwise create. She’s far more interested in the process of making her art work, and shows little to no interest in the finished product once she’s done (unless she is making cards to send). This is a great article on process art and it’s benefits for children, as is this comparison between process and product art.
I am really enjoying Frida’s currently interest in art and artists. It’s such a joy to rediscover art I haven’t looked at in years through the fresh eyes of a child. I hope we will continue the habit of daily art appreciation for years to come; it’s so simple, but is a moment I’ve come to look forward to every day.
I want to thank all of you who recommended us beautiful books about artists, here and on Instagram. We received so many wonderful recommendations.
So many of you said you loved the Laurence Anholt books, and I can see why – we bought Matisse, King of Colour, and when it arrived Frida loved it so much that I instantly bought Degas and the Little Dancer and The Magical Garden of Claude Monet too. I’m sure we will end up getting them all.
There are still a handful of tickets remaining for the April Frida be Mighty mothers’ morning, where we will be exploring simplifying and slowing down in our homes, our schedules, and our children’s daily lives.
It’s going to be a brilliant morning, connecting with like-minded mothers over tea, cake, and conversation, and you will leave feeling energised, with plenty of tips to put into action. Come and join us!