Wassily Kandinsky was a very well known abstract artist. His paintings were not geared towards children yet many art teachers looking for Wassily Kandinsky for kids are looking to see how they can use the works of this well know artist to enhance the children’s appreciation for good, abstract art, hence the search for Kandinsky for kids. Many of the great artists works don’t lend themselves to children.They are often very detailed and extremely representational and they make children feel like they can never be like them. Abstract artists on the other hand are more up children’s alley as they used techniques that children themselves can try to emulate. Though they were usually accomplished realists their work is not threatening to children.
Kandinsky did not even start out as an artist. He actually was a lawyer and first and did not begin studying art until he was about 30years old. (Proof that you CAN teach old dogs new tricks.) Kandinsky started painting after the era of the impressionists and was the first artist to actually move away from any form of realism in his pictures.
Below is a fairly typical Kandinsky painting.
The colors are gorgeous and he painted pure design, concentrating on color and design. He felt the colors and design had meaning in themselves which is a very important concept in introducing Kandinsky for children. This post is not one meant to teach you all about Kandinsky as you can find out that stuff on other websites. It is meant to introduce abstract art to kids and to have them try out activities to be a bit like Kandinsky himself.
Kandinsky lesson plan
- Start by gathering as many samples as you can of Kandinskys paintings. When children view a group of images that are the work of one artist, it puts them in the mood of that artist. They can in essence become Kandinsky kids
- Have the children tell you what they notice about each of his paintings. When I teach teachers to notice kids artwork and to comment on it I have them look at shape, color, size placement and anything else they SEE in the picture. Children can be trained to see beyond the representational by just noticing what’s there.
- You can play a game with the children where you copy different parts of a painting, show them in card form to the children and have them find that part of the painting on the real painting.
- Another idea is to copy over one of his paintings, put it on cardboard, cut it up into a puzzle and have the children piece it together following the original picture of it.
- Start off the painting activities by having the children paint with one color using different parts of their arms. Use the brush from the shoulder, then only moving the elbow, then the writs and then only the fingers. You can discuss with the children how you can make different shapes and patterns depending on how and which part of the arm and hand you use to paint. Sweeping arcs are certainly done in a different way then small marks.
- Then give the children some bright colors and have them paint again moving different parts of their arm but, this time concentrating on the designs they are creating to see the different marks they make. Have them hold on to their shoulders and try to paint from the shoulder. They will be holding on to their shoulder with their other arm so that they can feel where the movement is coming from. Then do the same with their elbows, wrist and fingers.
Kandinsky was a musician as well as an artist and thought of complex paintings as symphonies. As a result of that, many teachers who are incorporating Kandinsky lesson plans into their curriculum will start with an art activity that is related to music.
- Put on different kinds of music and have the children listen to each piece of music and paint to the music itself using bright watercolors, or bright tempera. Tell them to move according to the tempo of the music. First let them lie quietly and listen to it without moving. Then play it a second time. The third time give the children paintbrushes and paint and let them paint to the music If you pick a piece of music that has different sounds in it tell them that they can use the different parts of their arms and hands according to the music. Make sure it is not a long piece as the children will have no patience to listen to anything too long.
- After the children are done you should discuss with them how the music made them feel and how that translated into the movements they made on their papers.
Concentric circles by Kandinsky
“Squares and Concentric Circles is one of Kandinsky’s most recognizable works. This work shows us 12 different sections of circles that are seemingly inside square dividers. The explosion of colors on the canvas shows an abstract view to create a stir of feelings and emotions. The warmth and light in these bold colors creates a feel of excitement in the viewer. The colors range from warm reds and yellows to colder blues and greens. He uses a variety of colored circles inside each other, which are in turn inside a square. The square shape turns into a more and more circular shape through each progression.”
As this is one of Kandisnky’s most famous works of art you can give the children a shot a trying to something similar. this is not the same thing as giving them copycat arts and crafts as there is so much room for individuality in this exercise. Here is another post where children are working on Kandinsky concentric circles
I happen to love Kandinsky because aside from the fact that I love his colors and designs, for children it is great as his work is in museums, sells for high prices and yet any child can feel that they could easily do what he does. How you incorporate Kandinsky for children really depends on how deep you want to go with this.
If the children are older you may want to include in the Kandinsky lesson plan more about this life and go deeper into the different paintings of his. I find that most teachers are usually touching upon each artist individually and not so much in depth. Therefore, Kandinsky art for kids will only be one of many artists that they are learning about. The kindergarten and preschool age children need to know very little about the artist, the name of the artist types of paintings he or she did and plenty of actual painting experiences are what they need. Elementary school age children can deal with more info.
If you are interested in finding out more about really great, developmentally appropriate art activities for kids that are laid out in a systematic, formal manner then check out my 2 ebooks for the price of one that I have explained over here.