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Looking at Art with Children

Looking at Art with Children

Looking at art is a personal experience. When looking at art with children, it is important to emphasize that there is no wrong way to interpret it. Everyone sees art differently based on their individual preferences and worldview.

Asking thoughtful questions about the art we’re looking at helps us find answers for ourselves, creating a meaningful relationship to the artwork. Inquiry (asking open-ended questions) uses our natural curiosity to help us learn more about the art or object from our unique point of view. This process invites both the caregiver and child to slow down and look more closely. 

As you look at art together, encourage children to share what they know, sense, and feel. Allowing children to express their thoughts about art helps validate their perspectives and enhances our own experience with the artwork.

Here are some examples of questions to ask children when you’re looking at art together. 

  1. Describe: What do you see? 
    Describe the lines, shapes, colours, textures, objects, people, nature, etc. 
    What materials did the artist use? 
    How did the artist use those materials? 

  2. Analyze: How is everything put together? 
    Where is your eye drawn to in this image? 
    How did the artist make the image balanced? 
    How does the artist show movement? 
    Is anything repeated?   
    How does the artist show space in the image? 

  3. Examine: What is the painting about? 
    If you were inside this artwork, what sounds, smells, textures, or tastes would you experience?
    How does this artwork make you feel? 
    Does it remind you of anything? 
    What is the overall mood of this artwork?

  4. Conclude: What do you think? 
    Do you think this is a good work of art, and why? 
    What do you like most? 
    What would you change? 

The Children’s Art Exhibition, created by students at Wildflower Arts Centre and North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre, is online at the Calgary Public Library! Enjoy art created by nearly 100 students, ages 0 to 17, in sculpture, drawing, and mixed media.

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