In the month of June, the Tugboats are exploring fine arts, and this week was our time to study famous painters. We explored realist paintings of still life, abstract works from Mondrian and Pollock, and pop art from Andy Warhol. In the preschool years, creating art is more about the process and the experience than it is about what the child produces. We sought this week to introduce a variety of new processes for the children to explore and potentially integrate into their own ways of working.
On Tuesday, Nora introduced the Tugboats to the work of Piet Mondrian. His work is best identified by the bold lines and geometric shapes filled with bright primary colors. He is famous for inspiring the design featured on the Partridge Family bus. Mondrian’s style resonated with the Tugboats because the colors and shapes are so familiar to them. We talked about the lines that are so prominent in his work and asked the children to try to notice lines around them. On a walk around the block, they quickly noticed that their whole world is made of lines! Each child created his or her own Mondrian-style painting on a piece of foam core adorned with strips of masking tape. Once the paint had dried, we peeled off the tape to uncover color-blocked works of art!
On Thursday, we explored another mid-century abstract artist whose style is well-liked by our students: Jackson Pollock. The children studied examples of his work, noticing how the paint was sort of flung onto the canvas. We talked about our muscles and control, and we considered how much control it must have taken for Mr. Pollock to keep the paint mostly to his canvas. The Tugboats thought about how it would feel to fling and scatter paint in such an explosive way, and they had to try it! We took turns using spoons to fling paint onto a large piece of cloth, taking care to keep the paint off of the ceiling and to direct the paint as much as we could with our hand and arm motions. The result is a work of art we’re proud to display in our classroom!
Exploring different methods of creation encourages young children to consider new ways of using materials. While filling our shapes, the children felt soothed by the process of Mondrian. While splattering paint onto the cloth, the children released energy and some explosive emotions with their arm movements. These experiences open them up to the power art can have in their lives beyond visual stimulation and enjoyment. They learn new ways to process and express their feelings, as well as new ways to interpret the feelings and expressions of their peers.