Art Talk

When discussing art with children, we often find ourselves simply saying, “Oh it’s a dog!” or “How pretty.”  Here are a few tips on how to bring some art concepts into your comments and discussions.

  Hue Blue: Periwinkle, Turquoise, Cornflower
Intensity/Value “This tree is bright green.  That bush is a pale green.”
Temperature “The orange you used makes me feel warm.”
Relationship “This ball looks red by the sunshine, but orange by the stop sign.”
  Type “Wow!  Look at the zig-zags!”
Direction “Your train tracks go across the island.”
Quality “There are thick, heavy lines at the top, but skinny, fine lines at the bottom.”
Length “There are a lot of short lines inside the circle.”
Relationship “These lines are very close together.”
  Size “These raindrops are so tiny.”
Name “The crown has several triangles.”
Solidity “You can put your hand through this circle.  It’s a hoop!”
Relationship “There are trees on each side of the castle.”
  Location “The stars are grouped very tightly on the right side, but far apart on the left side.”
Boundary “Some of the fish are in the water, but some are out!”
Feeling “Everything looks far away.  I feel like we’re looking from on top of a mountain!”
  Symmetry/Asymmetry “It looks like there’s a mirror between these two sides!”
Repetition “Every heart has a circle around it.”
Alternation/Pattern “First a dot, then a triangle.  Then another dot, and another triangle!”
Variation “All of these pictures have a little girl in them, but she is doing something different in each one.”

 Using these art concepts in your discussions with children not only increases their vocabularies and their understanding and appreciation of famous works of art. When the discussion centers on their own creations, it shows them you are really looking and truly interested in the thought and time they’ve put into their masterpieces! (See also, Encouragement vs Judgment and Praise.)

 (This chart is a re-working of a handout I got in an undergraduate class, many years ago, by the irrepressible and exceptional Farol Nelson.  It is largely because of her that I went into the field of Early Childhood Development.  Let’s hear it for the teachers of teachers!)

 Resource: A Thing of Beauty: Aesthetic Development in Young Children by Stephanie Feeney and Eva Moravcik, Young Children, September 1987.

 More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!

Top photo by jacopoL.



Filed under Article, Create

3 responses to “Art Talk

  1. Wow – that is an amazing chart! I am doing an article on art now and will definitely be posting a link to this. Yes – here! here! to teachers of teachers.

  2. I also like to look at art as symbol and/or metaphor.

    What does that remind you of?
    What do you think all the red paint means?
    What do you think the toy is a symbol for in this painting?
    Why did the artist make the eyes so big?
    What emotion does the art make you feel?
    etc etc…

    • notjustcute

      Absolutely! We’re often surprised by the answers these little ones will give, if we will only ask! And the great thing about those types of questions is that there really isn’t a “wrong” answer, particularly if you follow it up with, “Why do you think so?” Great for teaching about art, but also great for developing divergent thinking, critical thinking, and articulation! Thanks for contributing!

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