Pablo Picasso once said “every child is an artist” – and now, kids are being encouraged to “turn their kitchen table into their art studio”, while using their homes and the items in them as sources of creative inspiration.
Budding young artists should take cues* from 20th-century masters like Picasso and Georges Braque and use their imaginations to turn ordinary items – like cereal boxes, old magazines and shopping bags – into extraordinary works, the curator* of children’s programs at the National Gallery of Victoria, Kate Ryan, says.
Ms Ryan said Covid lockdowns had made children and families familiar with “being creative in the home” – and there was no reason not to continue this practice now life was a little more normal.
“Drawing, painting, playing and making are recognised by leading educators for inspiring confidence and cultivating* a sense of wellbeing in early learners,” she said.
“Making art, whether it be drawing on paper or building with blocks, (provides) children with opportunities for self-expression, discovering new ideas and collaborating* with others, while also developing critical thinking* and problem-solving skills.”
Ms Ryan said it was more important than ever for children to learn these skills because many jobs wanted people who were good at these things. So mastering these skills “will help set up today’s learners for their future success”.
Collage was a great place to start for any at-home artists, she said.
French artist Braque pioneered* the technique, alongside Picasso, creating one of the first collages in 1912, titled Fruit Dish and Glass, by pasting pieces of woodgrain wallpaper on to a charcoal drawing.
“Braque’s family had a house painting and decorating business, so he drew from this,” Ms Ryan said.
DOWNLOAD THESE COLLAGE PATTERNS
She said kids could create their own collages using materials like old shopping bags, wrapping paper, magazines and newspapers – as long as they checked with their parents first.
Some of Picasso’s works could also inspire at-home art, Ms Ryan said – in particular, the paper cutouts he made “from a very young age”.
“There is a wonderful story about Lump, the dog that ate a Picasso,” she said.
“When he found out this little dachshund who moved into their home had never encountered a rabbit, he cut out a cardboard rabbit from a cereal box and the little dog ran off with it and ate it in the backyard.
“Creating cutouts using recycled paper and cardboard, in the spirit of Picasso, is another great activity people can do at home.”
Ms Ryan also suggested a game favoured by surrealist* artists, gruesomely titled “Exquisite Corpse”.
One player draws a head at the top of a piece of paper and then folds the paper to hide it. The second player draws a body and folds the paper again, then a third person draws the legs.
“When the drawing is revealed, you get a surrealist image,” she said, noting players could also cut out body parts from magazines to play.
“The game becomes something you do as a family – and you can discover who the real artist is in the family.”
Ms Ryan said kids could also play a digital version of this game at Melbourne’s NGV International as part of its free, all-ages kids’ exhibition, Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real, which runs alongside major exhibit The Picasso Century until October 9.
“Make a Creature” is one of four hands-on activities reflecting techniques invented or used by 20th-century European artists on offer at the kids’ exhibition.
The others are “Make a Collage”, reflecting Braque and Picasso’s invention of collage, “Make a Poem”, inspired by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova’s works, and “Make a Sculpture”, which takes cues from Picasso’s creation of paper sculptures.
The exhibition is complemented by activities at Melbourne’s Chadstone shopping centre, running until July 10, which also include the “Make a Creature” game, and an “Emerging Artists Space” where young artists can explore portraiture and sculpture.
- cues: clues, hints, signals
- curator: person who is in charge of the objects or works of art in a museum or art gallery
- cultivating: growing, developing
- collaborating: work with others on an activity or project
- critical thinking: a kind of thinking where you question, analyse, interpret, evaluate and make a judgment about what you read, hear, say or write
- pioneered: developed, was the first to use
- surrealist: to do with art in which unusual or impossible things are shown happening
- Which gallery is Kate Ryan from?
- Name two of the everyday items from your home that Kate Ryan suggests could be used in an artwork.
- What was the name of one of the first collages created by Georges Braque in 1912?
- What was the name of the dog that ate Picasso’s cutout?
- What was the cutout in the shape of?
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1. Budding artists
In a group of three, play the drawing game of ‘Exquisite Corpse’ mentioned in the article.
Fold an A4 piece of paper into three parts. On the top part, the player draws a head, then folds it over so no one can see. The second player then draws a body and folds it over. The third player then draws the legs.
Open up the drawing and see your creation. Display your work to your class if playing at school or family if playing at home. This is called a surrealist image. Discuss each other’s creations and the ones you like best.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts
Make a collage or draw a portrait of someone to express your artistic abilities.
What are the advantages of being creative?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts, English
Exquisite Corpse goes on an adventure
Have you heard of Flat Stanley? He is a book character who was flattened and decides to make the most of being flat and goes on many adventures. With a partner, why don’t you play the art game Exquisite Corpse and create your own unique character that could come to life and go on its own adventure?
Give your character a name. Decide how it will come to life. Decide what adventure they will go on, what problem will occur, and how it will be resolved.
Share your adventure with another pair and see what adventure their character went on.