What’s So Fine About Art?

  • Art is a collaborative effort. Teaching art to children starts with an understanding of fine art with the goal of learning the skills necessary to teach and impart to students a love and understanding of the art produced by modern artists of the Western world.

    Why teachers should learn art

    As a teacher, the intention should be to learn to create art in the style of the master artists. However, there is room for individual expression. And that is what is important. As Picasso said, “you have to learn the rules before you can break them.” Your goal as a teacher is to learn and pass on the rules and wait for the creativity to manifest.

    There are many factors to take into consideration when gearing up for the activities you wish and plan to teach.  This includes learning color terms and art vocabulary. You also have to think about your grade/subject level, your teaching situation — urban, rural, suburban, etc. — your level of comfort with and your own personal involvement in art (Do you like art? Do you do art yourself? If so, what’s your preferred medium?)

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    Teachers should also begin by studying the works of Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Elisa Kleven. After reviewing prints, they should compare and contrast the work of Kandinsky, Kleven and Mondrian.

    Things to consider include, as an example, what is the feeling you get from Mondrian’s work? Would that feeling be different if he had used other colors? How? Which artist’s work do you prefer? Why? Would you hang the artist’s work in your home?

    Understanding your own perception of art will build your confidence when it comes to reviewing the work of students. It will also enable you to see what the child is attempting to create and perceive it objectively.

    Teaching art to young children

    If you teach younger students, a great book to start with is, “The Art Lesson” by Tomie dePaola.

    It’s a picture book. Tommy knows he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He can’t wait to get to school and have real art lessons. When Tommy gets to school and finds out that the art lessons are full of “rules”, he is surprised and dismayed. How the wise art teacher finds a way to give Tommy the freedom to create and stay within the “rules” makes a wonderfully perceptive picture book about growing up and keeping one’s individuality.
    Another book is “Cat and Dog” by Rozanne Williams. Another children’s book, this popular and time-tested series has sold more than 20 million copies. Instill the love of reading and build self-confidence in young readers with these lively stories. Tied to content subject areas including math, science, and social studies, the 108 leveled readers in the series make the perfect compliment to any beginning reading program. The book is focused on increase fluency, building vocabulary and improving sight word knowledge with natural language, strong picture support, and easy-to-read repetitive text all while helping young readers master important early learning concepts tied directly to Common Core standards.

    The benefits of art for kids

    Art has been proven to be essential for young minds.

    Art is form of communication and expression, which makes it an ideal outlet for young children to use their imagination and develop their creativity.

    As a form of communication, art preceded writing as a form of communicating and preserving cultural and historical knowledge.

    Today, just as in the caves of France 30,000 years ago, art tells stories. According to Parents Magazine, “as kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colors, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence.”

    Even doodling has been proven to unlock a child’s mind. Educators, business leaders, and the medical field are beginning to recognize emerging patterns of benefits related to the act of doodling. The art of impulsive, idle, spontaneous scribble drawing in the margins of what one is supposed to be working on may in fact be cloaking hidden genius.

    Teaching art doesn’t necessarily require a master of arts in teaching. Resources are available. Art history teaching resources also come in many forms. One way is to begin with a professional development course that will provide you with learning tools you need to move forward. The arts and science of teaching can benefit the teacher and student in terms of understanding and passing on a knowledge of fine art.