The Art of Inspiration
The Arcimboldo exhibit entitled Nature and Fantasy is on display at The National Gallery of Art. Last week I led a Kindergarten class (Ms. Rick’s) on an exploration of his surreal paintings. For those not familiar, this is a painter from the 1500’s who made portraits out of things such as fruits, flowers, books, poultry, mammals. It’s fantastic stuff for any age.
I chose to not tell the kids that the paintings of fruits, flowers & vegetables became distinctive faces. I wanted them to experience the element of surprise and excitement. With the teachers, we prepared them for the trip, by talking about being observant, noticing details, using color thoughtfully, as well as the idea of inspiration.
What does it mean to be inspired?
The museum does not allow photography in this exhibit, so of the many tasks I gave the children, an important one was to choose one of their favorite paintings, and draw it in their sketchbook as a “memory” of the exhibit.
Henry gathered a lot of information, using both notes and representations, with the help of a chaperon:
Lia, used a different approach for her “memory.” She used expressive marks, creating a representation with great feeling:
Camille, I noticed sitting in the middle of the floor in one of the gallery rooms, intently sketching. The exhibit is popular and I noticed that patrons were walking in front of her and blocking her view.
“Camille, it’s getting crowded. You are welcome to get close to the painting.”
She replied, “No, I see it better from back here.”
This surprised me, because in general, kids often go so close to displays, they are craning their necks. She was serious and in fact, correct. To get perspective, one does have to step back.
She chose the painting “The Librarian.”
Her dedication to representing this painting was intense. You have to picture the scores of adults walking around and in front of this small body, hunched over on the floor space, gazing in between the bodies to create her memory.
Before the trip was over, she showed me her sketch. “Can you make me a copy today? I want my Mom to paint my picture.”
When we returned to school, we all discussed what we saw. Camille raised her hand, “Did you make the copy?”
I immediately did, and added a post-it note to inform mom of Camille’s plan.
It was a Friday, and Camille’s mom, Susan was to be out of town. On Tuesday morning I received an email.
I got in Camille’s folder a copy of her sketch from her field trip (dated 10/15/2010… this must be in her sketch journal that is kept at school), and a Post It note from you that Camille would like me to paint a painting based on her picture, so I stayed up way too late tonight and painted her a painting… I liked Camille’s composition and so I tried to stay true to her picture… The painting is attached. What a fun thing to do! I named the painting “It’s Time to Cook.” Medium is . 🙂