children looking at art (3)

Thoughtful talk with a noticing adult can open a door to deeper looking for child visitors to exhibitions.

In the previous post, I wrote about letting the child lead the visit. It’s the adult, though, who leads the talk, taking a dual focus - on the child and on the painting. Older children can tell you why they stopped at this particular painting. With a very young child like Naya, I have to guess what attracted her attention, and then I can offer it back to her with more talk.

The conversation starts from the child’s interest, and takes it further. Here’s an early Patrick Heron painting I saw in St Ives last spring and some imagined child-friendly talk around it.

Patrick Heron,  St Ives Window with Sandbar.  As seen as Tate St Ives, May 2018.

Patrick Heron, St Ives Window with Sandbar. As seen as Tate St Ives, May 2018.

Did you see the fish? Yes, there’s two, on the white table. Can you see another one?

can you find a chair in the painting?

It’s called St Ives Window - what can you see through the window?

Perhaps the painter was sitting inside looking out through the window like we did yesterday when it was raining.

look at the blue - here, and her, and here. So many different blues!

and there’s a bright red line. Let’s find some more red lines. Some down here and some up there.

It’s like a square, isn’t it? Do you think that’s the window? Or maybe these black lines are the window frame?

There are lines going up and down, and lines going across.

Look, here’s another painting through a window…

Here’s a list of some of the many things adults can talk about with the child:

details and stories to connect the painting to our lives

what the painting shows us

o   objects and landscapes

o   colours and change of colour

o   shapes

o   scale

o   light and shade

o   lines and diagonals

the title of the painting and what it might suggest

the making of the painting and how it shows on the surface

o   brush marks

o   how lines cross or avoid each other or create distance

o   how colours overlap or merge

o   what happens at the edges

o   unpainted areas

our responses to the painting

o   where it takes us (metaphorically)

o   how it makes us feel

o   the parts that ‘speak’ to us and the parts that don’t

o   what might happen beyond the painting frame

how the painting connects to others, in the exhibition or remembered

·       tbc

 © Lynne Cameron 2019