Category Archives: Art History and Kids Activities

Painting Picasso’s “Blue Period”

2 year old V’s take on Picasso’s Blue Period

In my Renaissance at Home post, I described my initiative to blog through Art History with my little one, V.  I hope that we can learn together and over time, with our activities and exploration growing more complex and in depth over the years that we do this project.  Though some might think that 2 is too early to start exploring the work of the masters, I think you are never too young to be exposed to beautiful works of art, and that the projects will be great sensory activities for a young child. Indeed, our little one recognized Hokusai’s work at a museum exhibit after viewing the picture on one of her Little Einstein videos.  Obviously the objectives of  her learning will change as she matures, but for now, I hope to keep our art exploration interesting and fun for her and hopefully, she’ll absorb a little along the way.

Our first featured artist is Pablo Picasso.

Together, V and I read Painting with Picasso by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, who have a great series of books for toddler aged children based on the work of famous artists.  We also checked out Pablo Picasso:  Art for Children, which seems to be a great book for slightly older children to explore.

A reference book that we will be using for our Art History exploration project is called Discovering Great Artists:  Hands-On-Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.  I fell in love with this book when we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and had to purchase it. On pg. 69 of Discovering Great Artists, is the page on Picasso, with a project called “One Color Painting.”

The focus of “One Color Painting” is to help children understand the concept of color mixing and painting using gradations of the same color.

While we did not adequately complete the color mixing portion of the project, we did decide to paint using one color.  I mixed the color gradations using tempera paint myself, however the paint we used did not change a good deal despite me mixing in great quantities of black and white paint into the blue.  Acrylic paint would have demonstrated the color mixing concept to V more visibly.

I personally like some of the work from Picasso’s Blue Period (from 1901-1904), which as the book says, “focuses on themes of loneliness and despair.”  While I did not attempt to convey those themes to my little one, she did manage to create a fairly ghost-like picture of her own (see above)!  I believe that the actual picture is meant to be airplanes and clouds, per her description.

This was a simple project, it didn’t take a lot of materials and time, but was a fun way to begin our journey exploring the work of the masters.


Renaissance at Home: Creating a Renaissance-Themed Playdate

I have this great idea (at least now I think it’s great; we’ll see if I can keep motivated to continue with it) to explore and blog through art history with my daughter, V.  As a amateur(very…amateur) artist, I hope to educate both of us through this experience, which I hope will evolve over the years to include more complex and intricate projects and study.

Through this course of study, I hope to blog about several children’s activity books and our experiences with the projects contained within.  I imagine we will skip around time periods a bit in V’s early years, where exposure to mediums, textures, colors, and sensory experiences is the primary focus.  I also know I will be adapting many of the activities to be age-appropriate for V, as well as coming up with some of my own ideas.  I know my husband, M, a talented artist himself, will also be excited to join us on our art adventures.

Following our trip to the Renaissance Faire the other day, I wanted to continue exploring the theme with art, music, costume, and cooking activities at home.  I was excited to involve some of V’s young friends in these activities over a day-long playdate.

Our fair maiden

We used the book Days of Knights and Damsels:  An Activity Guide  by Laurie Carlson as a source for our day, completing 5 activities in the book.  I love this book and plan to purchase a copy (this one was from our local library) for continued use.

Here are the five activities we completed:

With the two girls (aged 2.5 and 8), we completed the “Lady’s Looking Glass” on pg. 18 of the text.

Cut two pieces from cardboard using the pattern found in the book.

V’s mirror pieces, painted.

Mirror painted by V’s artistic friend!

Final front view, once we glued on “jewels”

Back view

V’s final bejeweled version

Back of V’s mirror

The next project we did was designing shields, inspired by the project on pg. 33.  We adapted our project for simplicity, simply cutting a shield shape out of paper and creating our own designs with paper, pencils and paints.

Blank shield shape

Our young 10 year old friend began designing his shield using his family crest, which he had previously found online.

V painting her shield

Two other books that might be helpful for designing your shields or for general reference  if you are completing the project with older children are shown in the picture below.  V loves the pop-up Knight book that I had actually purchased before she was born.

Some helpful titles

The next project that we did, which was a hit with all of the kids, especially our 10 year old chef, was to make pretzels, pg. 46 and mead, pg. 62.

Our homemade pretzels

We adapted the recipe in the book a bit; we brushed the egg mixture and added toppings BEFORE cooking, so as to not have raw egg on the top of our pretzels.  Our young guest chefs also suggested making a sweet topping for some of the pretzels, so we mixed cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on half of them.  This was a great texture experience for my little gal, who loved twisting and kneading the dough.

And the mead:  though it’s pretty much just honey and water, it was surprisingly good.  (No, we did not make the alcoholic kind, which is DEFINITELY good).

Finally, we made the Scroll Carrier from pg. 107.  I do not have pictures of the carrier; the 10 year old boy was the only one to complete this project and what fascinated him most was the paper we made.

Here is an activity that I created on my own to make parchment like paper for the scroll carriers.

First, brew a cup of regular tea.  Let it cool.  Pull out a cookie sheet with high sides or a baking pan.  Pour the tea in the pan and add a couple scoops of coffee grounds, stir, and let it dissolve into the tea a bit.  Put a drying rack over your sink to allow the paper to drip without staining your countertops.

Our drying paper

I used craft paper to cut the edges of the paper in a jagged sort of way.

Then, we swished the paper in the tray, covering them a bit with the grounds.  If you leave some of the grounds on the paper when drying, it creates some great dark staining, which looks awesome.

Place the paper on the rack and allow to dry completely.  Brush off the grounds in the sink, and you have instant parchment.

Our parchment paper

There are many other wonderful activities to complete in this book, and I hope to blog about more of them in the future. I also hope to explore some Renaissance artists with V and create some relevant projects based on their work.  Keep your fingers crossed that I can maintain this project, because I think it will be so much fun!

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