Art touches the soul… art is communication… it reaches out from the canvas and passes through the eyes of the viewer right into his heart where it can leave an imprint of beauty that can make the spirit sing.
~ Nina Baldwin
What would life be without art? Nina Baldwin is so right – art does touch the soul. Even if you aren’t an art enthusiast, you no doubt understand her meaning. And her quotation is just one of many quotations about art. There is no denying that art can stir our emotions and even make us think. If your child is a budding artist, you probably don’t need to encourage an appreciation of art and artists, but you can still encourage him to learn about American artists and August is the perfect month to do it. It’s American Artist Appreciation Month! Of course, if your child is not a budding artist (yet), you can help him develop an appreciation for art. And of course there is no reason to wait until August. You can do these things for and with your child any month of the year.
Learn About American Artists
To appreciate American artists, we have to know who they are! Wikipedia has a wealth of information about American artists neatly organized into lists:
Each list is divided into decades and then lists the artists in chronological order of their birth within that decade. Along with the author’s name, you
get their birth date, and then the type of artist they were (painter, sculptor, etc.). Each artist’s name is a link to a page telling a little about the artist and usually providing an example of his or her work.
Learn About the Work of American Artists
One really good way for children to learn about American artists is through a book about them just for kids. These books will not only teach them about the artists, but will help them understand their art through some artistic activities.
- 13 American Artists Children Should Know
Trying to learn about all American artists might be a bit too much for kids – even for adults. However, art historian Brad Finger has come up with thirteen American artists he thinks children should know about. Two pages are devoted to each artist, providing a brief biography, a description of their art, and why their art is important. You might not recognize all the artists, but after reading this book, you and your child will know why each is included in the list.
- Winslow Horner
- Mary Cassatt
- John Singer Sargent
- Edward Hopper
- Georgia O’Keeffe
- Alexander Calder
- Mark Rothko
- Joseph Cornell
- Louise Bourgeois
- Jackson Pollock
- Jacob Lawrence
- Andy Warhol
- Jasper Johns
In addition to the basic information on each artist, the pages include fun facts and activities and sometimes links to Web sites with more information.
For ages 8 and up
- Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters
This book covers over 75 American artists and helps children develop an appreciation for them through an art activity for each artist. For example, for Gilbert Stuart the book offers an activity for kid to create a “Painted Crackel Crayon” portrait. Stuart was a master portrait painter of the 18th century. (He is the one who painted the “unfinisihed” portratit of George Washington.) If you want to see more of what the book has to offer, you can visit the book’s Web site. It has a few activities from the book and some that aren’t in the book, as well as some links to more information for each of the four chapters:
- Early American Art
- New American Ideas
- American Art Explodes
- American Art Onward
The book includes a brief biography of each author and explanation of the importance of his or her work. There is also an index of art supplies and a glossary of art terms. For ages 4 and up
Explore the Works of American Artists
If you’re fortunate to live near an art museum, you can pay it a visit. You can see which museums hold art from which American artists by to the Art Encyclopedia online. Among other things, it has a list of American artists. You can find out which museums hold the works of the artists, follow links to the museum’s Web site, and then search using the artist’s name.
If paying a real visit to a real museum isn’t possible, you can see works of art online. One great way to look for American artists online is to visit the Google Art Project. You can search for a particular artist and then see high-quality photos of his or her work.
Provide Some Art Supplies
After learning something about American artists and viewing some of their work, your child might be inspired to create some of her own art work. To be ready, have some art supplies ready.
You don’t need anything fancy…at least not right away! Who knows? One day your child’s name might be found on a list of artists.http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/american-artist-appreciation-month/HolidaysNurturing Gifts and Talentsamerican artist appreciation month,Art