Teaching Art When Crayon is My Best Medium
- Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Create a Home Gallery
Now that they’ve learned artistic vocabulary and know a few of the art masters, your children will have more confidence to “do” art each week. But where do you display their works once the front of your refrigerator is full? One suggestion is to purchase a small table-top easel for each budding artist in your family. Found inexpensively at local craft supply stores, easels can be hinged or fixed; wooden, clear acrylic, or more decorative metal. Find an empty table top or dresser where they will all fit. Mount artworks on thin cardboard or card stock for durability so they don’t curve while upright. Voila! You now have an art gallery for the children to proudly display their finished works. Get in the habit of rotating your works. You can even assign one child as the curator responsible for your art museum.
Another display idea is to choose a large empty wall in your home to use as a gallery. In one of our homes, our gallery was the stairway wall leading down to our basement. We hung up artwork—very informally—with pushpins. Now we’ve devoted a large wall in our kitchen to kids’ works, displayed in matching frames. (Make sure your frame is at least 11” x 14”—large enough to accommodate a piece of construction or drawing paper.) Our children rotate their favorite pieces as often as they’d like, but only one favorite can be displayed at a time.
Next, we’ve given all our children an oversized accordion-style portfolio for keeping their work. Purchased at an office supply store, these light cardboard portfolios have a flap which stays closed with an elastic strap. Our children are encouraged to keep their 20-25 favorite pieces in it. Occasionally, if it gets too full, I ask them to sort through its contents and throw some items away. This strategy keeps the refrigerator clutter to a minimum.
Finally, when all else fails, we take a photo of a child holding his artwork and throw the original art away. The pictures can be printed and included in an end-of-the-year school binder for future memories.
We’ve had opportunity for our children to display their artwork at a local nursing home. The “exhibition” was organized by the nursing home’s activity coordinator and was for the benefit of its residents. My children loved picking their favorite piece, then mounting and framing it for display. About a month after the drop-off date, the activity coordinator invited student artists back for an afternoon of snacks and a chance to see their pieces on display in the nursing home’s large living room. We mingled with residents, showed them our works, and then took our artwork home. This would be an easy event for a homeschool co-op to coordinate.
Another year, a local homeschooling mom and I took the exhibition idea one step further. On behalf of our county’s Christian homeschool association, we rented the upper level of a local restaurant for a Saturday afternoon “Art Open House.” Families in our co-op were given a registration deadline, asked to pay $10 per student artist, and provided with invitations that they could distribute to family, friends, and neighbors. Each child had an 8-foot long table on which to display his or her artwork. We had a menu of finger foods and drinks available, with instrumental music playing in the background.
The Art Open House lasted three hours. At its mid-way point, a local Christian watercolor artist taught a brief lesson to the budding artists. She was gracious enough to visit with each of the participants afterward and let them show her their works. She did no judging or critiquing, just provided encouragement. We had a little bit of everything on display: wire sculptures, 3-D models, mosaics, paintings, pencil drawings, even playdough and Lego creations. Overall, the exhibition was very well-attended and a good experience for the children.
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