Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Artist Series - Van Gogh

Another week of sick children, changes at work, and lots and lots of cleaning up after two little ones.  I am still committed to my weekly alphabetty post!  So far so good:-)

Today's featured artist monster is Vincent Van Gogh.
Vincent Van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853.  Van Gogh is one of the best known post impressionist painters from the late 19th century.  His work continues to receive tremendous success -although he died at 37 virtually unknown.   Most of what is known about Vincent  comes from his relationship and letters to his younger brother and art dealer, Theo.  Much has been written about Van Gogh struggles with mental illness and anxiety - but there is no consensus regarding his diagnosis.

 As an artist, Van Gogh is widely known for his use of earthy tones and distinctive brushwork.  He was influenced by the Japanese woodcuts he collected and the works of artists from Paris.  His subject matter included portraits, wheat fields, and flowers.  For more information about the life of Van Gogh, click here.  
Many feel that Van Gogh ended his own life because his mental illness became such that he could no longer make art in the way that he wanted to.
Here are some of my favorite Van Gogh paintings.
And here is a link to Starry Starry Night by  Don Mclean:-)

Children's Books
The Yellow House was written by Susan Goldman Rubin.  It talks about Paul Gaugin's visit to Van Gogh in 1888.  The book does an excellent job of contrasting the two artists and talking about their complicated relationship.  It does discuss Van Gogh's cutting of his left ear, so it might not be suitable for all children.

 Van Gogh and the Sun Flowers is a book by Laurence Anholt in his series that tells the stories of artists and their friendships with children.  This book has excellent reviews from Amazon- and I think this one is going in the wishlist:-)
 Ideas for next steps
  1. Van Gogh is another artist who used art to help him with emotional overwhelm.  Teaching children about the healing qualities of art is important- and a great coping mechanism.
  2. Self Portriats- Van Gogh did a series of self portraits at different periods of his life.  Have your child draw pictures of themselves.  Use a mirror so that your child begins to understand their own features. 
  3. I did a really fun project with some middle school children where we used finger paint to create our own Starry Starry Night inspired paintings.  Finger paints are often reserved for the very young- and they can sometime create some regressive behaviors in older children (meaning that they will begin to act younger than their age).  But finger paints are also excellent kinesthetic art materials that can  help children get in touch with things that can not be perfect, and that is wonderfully okay!
Happy Art Making!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Artist Series- Andy Warhol Monster

Being a mother, a teacher, a therapist, and an artist all at the same time is quite a feat.  I don't think that I am always as successful as I would like to be, but that doesn't keep me from trying.   Today was one of those rare days where I felt like I was really good at being a mom.  So many times, stress, overwhelm, and a need for perfection create some serious obstacles to being the mom that I know I want to be.  But today felt different.  My daughter had a melt down at a local restaurant.  Instead of being angry, nervous, and reactive -  I was calm, nurturing, present, and at the same time firm.  I didn't give in, but I also allowed her to be sad.  She cried, I offered her a hug, and she accepted.  She then sat next to me and we enjoyed our meal together.   I have been holding on to these two sayings:

"Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I most need it"
-Swedish Proverb
People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.
-John Harrigan

So in those moments where my beautiful little daughter is melting and acting like a completely wild little one, I remind myself of what she needs- and it makes me feel better and act in a way that makes me better as a parent.  Parenting is such hard work!

Onto my newest little monster
This little monster is inspired by
Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol was born in Pennsylvania on August 6th, 1928.  His parents were working-class immigrants from what is now Slovakia.   When Andy was still in grade school he developed Chorea, a disease of the nervous system which caused him to move his extremeties involuntarily and skin pigmentation blotchiness.   Because of his sickness, he was often bedridden as a child and did not feel that he fit in with other children.  In bed, he would often draw to pass the time.  His father passed away when he was only 13 years old. 

Andy studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.  He was always interested in blurring the lines between what was seen as commercial art and that which was fine art.  His images often included cultural icons - such as Elvis Presley or Elizabeth Taylor and images from everyday culture that he would elevate to the level of "high art".  He was highly influential to many young artists.  He died in 1987 at 58 years old.
There are lots of children's books inspired by the work of Andy Warhol. 
A few of the favorites at my house include the following:

 This book is a children's book and talks about colors using the art work of Andy Warhol.  The pictures are vivid and it definitely captures a little one's attention from beginning to end.

This book was actually written by Andy Warhol's nephew, James Warhola .  It talks about visiting the artist during vacation.  I really enjoyed how it made the artist in all his eccentricities - a real person- and not just the icon that we all know him as.  And I loved how it opens a discussion about how art can be anything and art is everywhere!
This book is on my wishlist.  The reviews state that this book looks more at how Andy used art to overcome his social difficulties.  As an art therapist,  this book seems right up my alley!
I love the cover.

Ideas for next steps:
  1. Art Projects for Kids has a wonderful art project using self portraits and acetate done in the spirit of Warhol. Click here
  2. Find a photograph of your child and make four xerox copies.  Have your child color each one a using different colors.  Tape them together to form a square.
  3. As with Basquiat and Kahlo, Warhol used art as a means of coping.  Continue the discussion with your child around what skills they have that they could use when feeling upset or discouraged.  Encourage your child to have an art journal if drawing is something that they notice helps them to feel better.
  4. Show your child images of Andy Warhol's food series and have your child draw and paint their favorite food.  Having your child draw with a pencil first, then outline with a permanent marker, and then color the image in, will give it that "pop" art look.
Hope you have some Warhol Inspired Fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Artist Series- Basquiat

So, I have been out of commission for a while.  Between teaching, being sick, working my regular job, and taking care of sick children- life has been hectic... which really is pretty much usual.  Fortunately, the class I teach is almost over- and my life will resume to its slightly less hectic state. 
Although I have not been blogging as of late, I have been making art into the wee hours of the night.
I figured it would be a good time to talk a bit about what I have been doing!

I have been working on my artist monsters!  I have been having so much fun researching artists and their images and incorporating them into my little creatures.  I also have had a great time using the monsters to teach my daughter a little about the artist that each monster is inspired by. She definitely has her favorites, and it has been wonderful to see how our aesthetic is so similar.  I want to find ways in my posts to share a little about the history of the artist and what images inspired my creature.  I also want to share possible ways that we can create fun directives to make the artist come to life for our children. 

I will start by introducing one of my newest little monsters, King Basquiat!
This little monster is inspired by  

 Born on December 22nd, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York.  His father was Haitian and his mother was of Puerto Rican descent.  He was a super bright child, who could read by age four and loved making art. Jean  Michel spoke French, English, and Spanish by the age of 11.  Although he was a gifted youth, he had a difficult childhood.  He was hit by a car when he was seven, his parents became separated, and he ran away from home at age 15.  He always made art, and would sell his art as a means of taking care of himself.  

Jean Michel Basquiat's imagery is child like, bold, and full of emotion.  It often can remind the viewer of his start as a graffiti artist.  Other images look as if they have been drawn on a chalkboard.  His trademark is a golden crown.  His artwork can be found in collections all over the world.  Sadly, his life was always somewhat troubled, and he died at only 27 years old in 1988.  Here are some of my favorite images.

There is a beautiful children's book with a poem by Maya Angelou and illustrated with the artwork of Jean Michel Basquiat called, "Life Doesn't Frighten Me."  Definitely worth checking out!

Ideas for next steps

  1. One thing that I love as an art therapist, is learning about artists who really used artwork as a means of working through emotions or as a means of support.  Basquiat is one of these artists.  Teaching children about how art can be used as a coping strategy is an excellent way of helping kids deal with their own emotions.
  2. Use black construction paper or black canvas and oil pastels to have your child draw their own "Basquiat" inspired imagery. 
  3. Basquiat painted lots of postcards that he would send to his friends or sell on the street.  Have your child make a postcard and send it to someone they love.  Help them put the stamp on it and put it in the mail! 

That's it for now!  Promise I will write again soon!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...