Possible approaches for your presentation
PLEASE NOTE: Refer to the menu page, “Sample questions for discussing a picture” for additional help.
Consult the teacher on the amount of time for the presentation and discuss your follow-up activity for the teacher’s approval.
Have more information than you think you may need. Pursue ideas if students are receptive to them.
Be reasonable in your expectations. Keep information content and length age appropriate.
Always try to arouse interest and suspense to keep the students excited about the lesson.
You may want to keep the painting hidden from the students to arouse suspense until you are ready to reveal it.
Have the children sit close to you and the painting during the presentation.
Consider dressing like the artist or bring something related to the artist and/or painting.
Give information about the artist that is interesting to the students.
Bring a color wheel.
Bring a book with a photograph of the artist and other interesting photos.
Consider giving a short lesson on Impressionism, post-Impressionism, abstract and modern art, keeping in style with the picture being presented.
Consider giving the presentation outdoors in nice weather.
Consider setting up the classroom ahead of time when the students are away at a special class and surprise them when they return.
Have project materials organized ahead of time, i.e. cut up, separated, put into individual baggies for each student, etc., anything to help shorten the time it takes to pass items out to students. If you want the students to use their own supplies, such as crayons, etc., have them put those items on their desktops prior to beginning your lesson.
Consider developing follow-up activities based around an upcoming holiday or special day.
Hang projects in classroom for open house or display in hallway; create an art gallery.
For your final presentation in May, you may want to send home a short note about the artists and the paintings presented throughout the program or issue a “Certificate of Accomplishment” , etc., anything that may give some closure and remind students to visit the art museum over the summer.
Consider shopping at dollar stores, Marc’s, etc. for supplies.
Before beginning your presentation, ask students if they remember the name of the painting and artist from the last presentation.
Write the name of the artist and painting on the board. Help the children with the pronunciations.
You may wish to have them give title ideas of their own and then tell them the title of the picture after the discussion.
Discuss the difference between an original painting and a reproduction.
Introduce a palette and how it is used.
Discuss the artist’s background and habits, etc.
Ask what feeling the colors convey – pleasure, joy, sadness, anger, noise, etc. And why.
Relate paintings to the senses – rough, smooth, sharp, cold, hot, loud, etc.
Using the sensual as well as the emotional and intellectual response to things in the painting, relate to their everyday feelings about themselves, people, and environment.
Discuss rhythm, color movement, and line movement.
Point out that an idea or feeling is the beginning of the artist’s creation; the artist then develops this idea or feeling through the different medias and processes of art.
Do not overlook the technical aspects of creating a work of art – the media, materials, and techniques. Children want to know “how” things are done.
Relate the painting to history.
Relate the painting to characteristics of the particular period in art.
Consider cross-curriculum tie-in, if possible, i.e. have a student locate the birth-place of the artist on a map or globe; incorporate subject matter taught in the classroom with the picture when possible.
If a picture has obvious narrative or dramatic content, discuss this first, as it will be most important to the children…but never stop the discussion with more verbal storytelling. Make it a visual.
In discussing abstract works, you may find helpful the idea of looking for “expressive personality,” i.e., the idea that paintings, like people, have personalities.
Do not use questions that are too vague and open; for example, “What do you think of this picture?” Instead, having been told by a child that a particular painting gives them a spooky feeling, a good follow-up might be to ask the group to find all the various factors that create the spookiness.
Use music or poetry to set a mood that corresponds to your picture.
Help the children find colors, lines, or shapes that are repeated.
Always try to bring in a real object that is shown in a picture. A scarf, hat, lantern, raincoat, bowl, candle, letter, piece of fruit, etc., will often be a great way to introduce a picture. “The artist for this month has one of these in his/her picture…”
Sometimes our eyes complete lines that are left unfinished by the artist. Give the children an opportunity to “find” these imaginary lines. Ask them to come forward and show the class.
Artists use many different kinds of brush strokes to “fill-in” areas of color. Help them to see lines that are hurried, detailed, thick, wavy, wide, tiny, precise, etc. Discuss if the picture is centered, blurry or sharp. Ask if it is easier to see the details of the picture when sitting up close or farther away from the picture.
Use art terminology as it relates to the picture, i.e. primary and secondary colors, cool and warm colors, perspective – foreground and background; complementary colors, texture, balance, symmetry, shapes, line, color, repeating patterns; types of paintings: still-life, portrait, self-portrait, landscape. Consult with the art teacher to find out which art terms are taught at the different grade levels.
Challenge the children to continuously look and find new information.