by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
First of all, let me say that remote learning for young children is not easy! I discovered this first hand when we had our two grade school grandchildren stay with us for a few weeks recently. All schools were thrown into a tizzy last March with a need to adapt to a new learning process for their students, and their district came up with a good program overall. However, some things are left to the parents or children to discover ways to enhance these curriculum ideas developed by the administration. One of these items was a supplement to their online art classes that only meet once a week.
Our first introduction to this “do- it-yourself” research was when my daughter asked me if I had an art book to show the children. While the children were doing their lessons, she was busy with her own job, working online and attending zoom meetings. Most of my art books are large “coffee table” editions that included photos of Renaissance art and old masters. I offered to work on this project and find a starter project for my granddaughter and picked two artists that would be easier for her to relate to their themes. I picked Edgar Degas and Georgia O’Keefe. As we sat at my computer, I explained to my granddaughter that certain artists have favorite topics they like and often paint that topic repeatedly. I described landscapes, portraits and she jumped in and said and “still life”. My daughter already introduced many artists to her children via art books and flash cards when they were in preschool. I had my granddaughter copy the spelling of Edgar Degas and pronounce it and she did saying the last “s” in his name. Using this to describe how he was French born and many of the French words do not sound out the last letter in many words like in Degas, or fillet. The internet was perfect and images of his work came up and she loved the ballerinas. Then I explained he was also known for painting horses, which many people don’t realize and I brought up pages of his horse pictures.
We moved on to the next artist and I did the same with the artist Georgia O’ Keefe and pages of her florals came up to view. We read a bit about her life and how she lived in Arizona a long time and did “desert paintings, too”. It was really a fun lesson! I checked the web and found a video with an instructor that showed, on a basic level, “how to draw a flower like Georgia O’K”. We watched this easy and appropriate for the age of my granddaughter or any beginner and she drew her flower along with the artist. Later I gave her crayons to color it in. At the end of the lesson, I felt we more than completed the teacher’s instructions to come up with an “independent” art lesson. We had discovered a nice way to enhance our learning by using the internet and included a chance for her to relax, draw and color, while learning a bit of art history.