With the extra time that many children have during the summer, it may be a good opportunity for introducing them to a subject that we don’t always think about: learning about great artists. Artists have a huge amount of influence on shaping history and culture and it’s a good idea to give kids a sense of how powerful art can be. Not only does this give them a greater understanding of the past, but it can also get them excited about what they will create in their future. This post is the beginning of a series about introducing kids to great art. Each week we will highlight one artist and link to books, projects, and other resources for teaching kids about that artist. Each post will also feature a printable fact card about that week’s artist. We are starting off with Jackson Pollock, an artist every kid can get excited about! Don’t forget to check back and see who we are learning about next week.
Before getting into a specific study of Pollock, I first wanted to mention two books that provide an essential overview of different artists and schools of art for children.
The Usborne Art Treasury by Rosie Dickins has short biographies of many artists as well as a picture of their most famous work. This book also provides ideas for art projects that allow children to try out different techniques related to each artist.
13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel is another useful art reference for teaching kids. It talks about 13 different painters and has a helpful timeline to provide a context for where each artist falls in history. Also includes several nice reproductions of each artist’s greatest works.
Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg is an excellent picture book for introducing young children to the process of creating art. Instead of a typical biography, this book follows Jackson Pollock throughout the process of creating one of his most famous paintings. It describes the movements, materials and inspiration that are necessary for creating a large painting like those Pollock created. This book is excellent for getting children excited about making art themselves. The text includes actual quotes from Pollock about his paintings and process and a there is a photo of the actual painting at the end.
Jackson Pollock (Getting to know the world’s great artists) by Mike Venezia has some interesting biographical information for older kids as well as some background about the abstract expressionist movement in general. Also includes color reproductions of some of Pollock’s other works to give kids a better sense of his painting style and how it changed.
This youtube video is an interview with Pollock from 1951 with lots of close up footage of him painting and includes many of the same quotes that are found in the book Action Jackson. It’s a good video to watch after reading the book because it gives kids a better idea of what his movements actually looked like as he painted. After reading the books and watching the video above, you may want to try out a drip painting project yourself!
Project: Drip Painting
Large piece of white canvas, board or thick poster board
House paint or acrylic paint thinned to a “drippy” consistency with water
large containers to hold paint
Large brushes and sticks
We just laid a large piece of poster board outside on the ground, set out the containers of thinned paint and some large brushes and sticks. Then the kids can just go at it! The great thing about this project is that anything goes. They can use their hands, feet, brushes, sticks, sponges, even roll balls in the paint. This is a great art project for kids of any age since it is very free style.
Printable Artist Fact Card
Print this fact card out and start a collection of great artists and their work. Fold in half and laminate or cut and paste onto a 3×5 card.