Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility

How to Introduce Arts to Kids: 5 Tips from an Art Critic

The History of Fine Arts is a huge and incredibly interesting book that can be read indefinitely. And if you share the joy of discovery with your children, the art world will be filled with new colors and emotions. Today, YMCA is answering the most frequent questions about how to introduce arts to children and how to turn acquaintance with art into a useful and enjoyable pastime.

1. “When to start introducing children to art?”

This is the most important. There is no unequivocal answer to it because all children are different. It is most effective to start acquainting the child with the visual arts when he or she begins to speak: the kid clearly pronounces individual words, recognizes the objects depicted in pictures in books, tries to build the first sentences. 2.5 – 3 years is the age when your visit to the museum or reading a book already turns into a kind of dialogue when the child can easily answer who is depicted in the picture or what color the little girl’s dress is. So this is the best moment to start exploring the art world.

However, one should not forget about the temperament and character of the child: some contemplative children can leisurely wander the halls for hours, while for others, two minutes around a picture or book is real torture because one has to run, explore and discover. Nothing bad will happen if you start a little later – when the baby is ready for your stories about paintings and artists.

2. Where to start acquaintance with art?

Fine art depicts, so you’d better start with the simplest questions: who, how much, what color, where. Surnames and dates are hard to remember not only for children but also for adults, so it’s better to start with genres. Tell the child that paintings depicting trees, fields, rivers, village houses, oceans with ships are called landscapes, and canvases depicting different people are portraits.

Then you can add a few more genres – for example, the genre depicting the events of everyday life. Or you can delve into already passed genres, explaining that the landscape on which the artist painted the sea or the ocean is called a marina, and the portrait in which we see a queen in an elegant dress or a general in a uniform with orders is called a ceremonial portrait.

3. Can you practice effectively at home?

Sure! There is a huge number of books for this – for every taste and budget. In addition, we advise you to get reproductions of paintings by artists that will be of interest to kids. These can be paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo who made portraits from fruits, vegetables, books and tableware, as well as the work of Flemish and Dutch masters, which are always full of children, animals and other details that the child is interested in looking for together with mom and dad. 

You can find a painting in good resolution on thick paper or purchase ready-made albums – collections.

4. Choose creative activities

You can, for example, show the magic formula for mixing colored gouache and get 3 more colors from just blue, yellow and red. They can be used to create your own home masterpiece in the style of Henri Matisse.

A 5-6-year-old child can already be told about warm and cold colors, and then you can together analyze what shades the painter prefers in a particular work. You can try the technique of pointillists together – artists who create paintings from fractional brushstrokes-points. To do this, you need an old pencil, the reverse side of which is convenient to fill the surface of the sheet with numerous dots, which turn into a bright mosaic.

5. How to make your visit to the museum interesting?

First, remember the timing. We do not recommend excursions in the style of “the whole museum in 3 hours”. We recommend walking thoughtfully, choosing one or two halls and delving into only one topic. For example: “French school of painting of the Rococo era”, “Art of Byzantium”, “Sculpture of Ancient Greece”. You can go to the museum with children according to the scheme: one hall – one topic – 35-40 minutes, which will help to consider and remember the most interesting.

Try to bring a notebook and magnifying glass with you. These two items will turn an ordinary trip to the museum into an exciting adventure because now you are not just a mother and a baby, you are famous art re-searchers who need to find and count the dogs and cows depicted in the painting, check if there are craquelures on it (cracks on the surface) or discover the date of creation of the work, which the artist hid on an old stone or mossy tree trunk. All results can be entered into a notebook

You can start a pleasant tradition – at the exit from the museum, buy 2-3 postcards with the most favorite pictures. Be sure to ask the child which picture he or she liked and remembered. The postcard will become not only a pleasant memory but also a useful acquisition – you can put together a collection that will help you to carry out a family “guessing game”.