Kid's Holiday Workshops : Famous artist themes
Holiday Workshops for kids: Artist themes
Before I had my own kids I taught at an art summer camp in Bermuda. Each day was themed with a country with lots of activities. There were also beach mornings, with swimming and coloured sand sculpture. Bermuda is so hot and humid and I was exhausted at the end of each day. But it was great fun. My daughter went along for a week of the same camp many years later. She had a ball.
Teaching holiday workshops to kids came directly from my art camp experience many years before. By 2010 we were living in Australia and I knew parents who were looking for ways to keep the kids occupied during school breaks. There wasn't the same " camp" network that there had been in Bermuda so I decided to organise a mosaic day. My first workshops were for friends kids, Mosaic had its challenges but on the whole, you don't need a vast supply of materials... Once I had my studio, I introduced other activities. Kids could paint, draw, use ink, pastels, paper Mache and collage. The downside of having kids working on different things at the same time was complicated chaos could quickly ensue. So with the magic of the internet, I did some research online and found an amazing resource in some great websites
Then Pinterest took off and I couldn’t have done without it. What an amazing resource. Check out my Art Train boards for loads of ideas. I always tested out the projects I found, some didn't work but most were amazing and by trying them I could add my twist or change them up a bit.
I started doing themed workshops for kids, all the kids working at their own pace but on one theme and fewer activities. Each holiday I would choose a few artists and with the help of the above websites and Pinterest, I designed workshops which used the work of the artist or art movement as inspiration.
The day starts with me showing the kids the artist’s work. The majority of the kids will never have heard of the artists although some parents will have looked them up and shown the kids before the class. I love it when this happens. The kids come along already with some knowledge. There is quite often a hurdle when introducing an artist as artist work and practice is unfamiliar the one reaction, I hate the most is “That’s wired”. So, I will talk about the artist and what they were trying to achieve. Their contemporaries a little social history and then we get into it. By the end of a class, the kids are no longer calling the art weird, the most common is “cool”.
The majority of workshops will start with the kids playing an art game, this is functions as a getting to know you exercise. Again, Pinterest has come to the rescue with the art dice games they post. I have augmented some of these and designed my own for artists who aren’t represented. These games are a great way to break the ice and get the kids learning about each artist's visual language. It's not possible with every artist but I find it’s the perfect way to start the day.
Whilst the dice games are happening, I rotate the kids out to underpaint their canvases or boards. Most of the projects are completed on coloured grounds. That way I can teach the kids about layering paint and the stress of a pristine white surface is immediately erased.
During the day the kids will work on usually two pieces, working on one while the other dries then swapping back. We can then layer paint and never get into trouble working wet areas next to one another.
The kids go home with some fantastic work having learned that art isn’t just tame photorealism, they can make inspired and beautiful work and there are many ways to approach creativity.
Here is a list of the artists we have covered. I say we as my daughter has taught the workshops with me since she was 8. She used to participate and would help out when needed, and gradually she would be teaching alongside me. She finished school in 2019 and is tutoring part-time, her teaching experience at The Art Train has been a fantastic start for her. She starts uni in February.
- Patrick Heron
- Chuck Close
- Laurel Birch
- Van Gogh
- Jasper Johns
- Jim Dine
- Da Vinci
- Joseph Cornell
- Lee Anderson
- Gordon Hopkins
- Peter Cromer
- Rex Ray
- Sandra Silbersweig
- Frank Stella
- Torres Garcia
- Day of the Dead
- Papier Mache