this week at the Kids Art Studio where I work we worked on abstract expressionism. Even with some language barriers, hopefully kids got a rough idea about this art movement and eventually we did some interesting work together.
As I started to show them an abstract painting from Jackson Pollock, and introduced him as one of the most influential EE.UU. abstract painters, better known as “Jack The Driper”. Kids were impressed by the size, colors and endless drips, dots and lines the canvas had.
They couldn’t belive that he was a famous artist with such “nonsense” art, his work has no glimpse of visual familiar references as realism or impressionism shows. “A six-year-old kid can do the same” was their statement.
Firstly I thought its going to be tuff to explain abstract art, and kids are going to get easily bored. In China people believe more in what they see, and do not give much credit to personal interpretation. It’s difficult to get some personal feedback from kids specially when you ask them about their ideas, desires and imagination. They are used to the image faithful to the life objects which is always easier to understand in any culture.
Jackson, a man dancing around a canvas that laid flat on a floor, spattering it with gouts and paint, seems difficult to appreciate as an artist. But then, again…it takes some craziness to step out of the everyday life.
Coincidently it was Jackson’s anniversary, which made our research on the Internet easier, on the 28th of January it’s been 101 years since he was born.
Always in the class I like to introduce a few keywords that can help kids understand and relate the artist with a certain art expression or technique.
In this case, I made special emphasis in:
– visual references: explaining that Abstract Art doesn’t show things that are easily recognizable in our daily life, and give them a chance to create crazy shapes and patterns with pastels.
– dripping: Jackson’s famous painting is about more than 1000 drips that created colourful patterns. An online Jackson Pollock dripping application is available to give an interactive art experience, its pretty cool even for adults…give it a try?
– imagination: everybody has and needs imagination, the impulsion to create from relevant life experiences or personally invented by the mind. Reflection of real or fantasy life that can be expressed through subconscious beliefs and desires.
Another artist came into the scene, Mark Rothko, his rectangles surrounded by a bright colourful background were his signature, Untitled (No. 17); Number 24; Untitled (No. 22) were some of the most recognisable art works he did. We tried to imitate him with acrylic paint on canvas.
Apart from the paintings we also did some smaller projects, such as polymer clay 10x10cm little canvas with some colourful dripping, a splatter painted easel done with popsicle sticks, and a Jackson Pollock earthenware head pot, where we are going to fill with grass seeds. Hopefully it works out well, so that I can show the results later on here.
At the end, we agreed on a simple and easy description about Abstract Art, which is anyones self-expression and imagination through any art medium.
Some useful and interesting websites about the artists: