We're learning about fine art this week. Our local museum recently waived its entrance fees, so I dragged the family out on Saturday to "look at all the pretty paintings." It's actually not a shabby collection. We have a Renoir, a Cezanne, and my favorite... a Mary Cassatt.
I showed E. the dots in pointillism and the big brush strokes in impressionism, but mostly we just gazed and admired. (BTW - If you take a preschooler to a fine art museum, be prepared to explain a lot of tragic Greek myths. The painting of a man being tortured by the Furies for stabbing his mother in the heart was particularly fascinating to my four year old.)
I had planned on letting E. experiment with watercolors after spending so much time in the Impressionists gallery. Unfortunately, I've finally succumbed to A.'s killer cold and didn't have the energy to get out - and clean up - all those paints. Instead, I set her up on the computer....
ArtRage 2.0 Starter Edition is a free program that is so much fun. You can choose your color and then "paint" with a paintbrush on the screen. The colors interact with each other much like real paint. There is also an option for drawing with crayons, pencil, fountain pen, and eraser. You can upload a picture to draw on or to trace. As the daughter of computer dorks, E. might be advanced with using the mouse, but I think most 4 and 5 year olds would be able to use the tools with a little prompting. Here's E's masterpiece:
For something a little simpler, you can go to this site to turn a photo into an impressionist painting. They have about 20 pictures to choose from. Your child simply "draws" over the photo with the mouse to make it look like a Monet.
The Book - Impressionists for Kids (Great Art for Kids) by Margaret Hyde
I've reviewed another in this series, Cassatt for Kids, and really like both of these. They are simple board books, with full-color prints of famous paintings on each page. There is very little text, mostly just the name of the painting and the artist, but I like how this allows us to talk about the pictures. I go through this book with both A. and E., and both girls like looking through the pictures on their own.