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1st Grade Art Appreciation: Mother and Child

Mother and Child Art Appreciation •

It’s the second installment of Art Appreciation for Kids over here, and I am thrilled to bring you another Mother and Child presentation, but this time for 1st graders, so it’s FAR more sophisticated than the Kindergarten Mother and Child presentation. 🙂

Art Appreciation for 1st Graders - Mother and Child •

Let’s get right to it. This one is pretty straightforward, with just some great questions to ask your kids as you look at the images together. Feel free, of course to keep the dialogue going if your kid is getting into it!

Mother and Child Art Appreciation •

Polynesian Woman With Children
Paul Gaugin, 1901

Questions to ask the Kids:

  • What are the colors you see first here?
  • How does this painting make you feel?
  • Do you think they like posing for this picture?
  • How long do you think it would take to have your picture painted?
  • How long do you think it would take to have your picture taken with a camera?
  • Have you ever posed for a portrait?
  • Are these people inside or outside? How can you tell?
  • Is there any action in this painting?
  • What are these people looking at? How does that make you feel?

Background information (for the presenter):

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), worked around the same time as the Impressionists in France. Gauguin’s art became increasingly abstract as compared to the Impressionists. He used color in large flat areas and forsook traditional handling of space in order to inform his work with the visual unity and symbolism he desired.

Paul Gauguin was a restless man, attracted to exotic places. Before his famous sojourn in Tahiti, he had visited South and Central America and lived in Brittany, France. In all these places, he was attracted to cultures he considered more ‘primitive’ and therefore, more spiritually  pure than is own.

Mother and Child ARt Appreciation for kids •

Madonna And Child With St. John
Correggio, 1515

Questions to ask the Kids:

  • What is the first color you see here?
  • Where are the most vivid, brightest, or pure colors? Are they in the front of the painting (the foreground) or in the background?
  • What is this painting about?
  • Do you think they know we are looking at them? Why or why not?
  • Are they inside or outside? How do you know?
  • Do these children look safe here? Why?
  • Do they look like someone you’ve seen?
  • Does the space go very far back in the background?
  • This is a flat surface. How does Correggio make things look so far away? (smaller, darker, less distinct, etc)

Background Information (for the presenter)

Madonna and Child with St. John was painted about 20 years after Columbus discovered America. Correggio (1494-1534) was an Italian painter of the High Renaissance.

“He lived and worked in the provincial city of Parma, executing a body of work that is remarkable for its inventiveness and sophistication, given his remoteness from the great artistic centers of Renaissance Italy.”*

This painting has many of the characteristics of a typical Renaissance painting: the rounded, natural looking figures, the landscape in the background, the softness and tenderness of the figures toward one another. The ideal beauty of the mother, the vivid colors.

*Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Appreciation for kids •

Mother and Child
Pablo Picasso, 1921

Questions to ask the Kids:

  • What colors do you see in this painting? Are they bright or soft?
  • Where are these two sitting? Are they inside or outside? How can you tell?
  • What do you think about the size of the mother’s hands? Why are the mother’s hands so big? …the feet so small? …the nose so big? Does this look like a photograph?
  • What kind of clothes is the mother wearing?
  • Do they know we are looking at them?
  • Does there look like there is a lot of space?
  • How far back does the background go? (Mother and child are in the foreground, behind them is the background)
  • How do you think the mother feels about the child? How can you tell?
  • How do you think the child feels about the mother? How can you tell

Background information (for the presenter):

This painting is at the Art Institute of Chicago. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish artist.

“Picasso’s energy and genius could not be contained in one style. In 1917 Picasso was asked to go to Rome to design sets and costumes for a ballet troupe. Deeply impressed by the ancient and Renaissance art of the city, he entered his Classical Period, during which he experimented with the forms and styles of ancient art, from Etruscan painting and Greek vases to Roman sculpture”*

This painting was created during Picasso’s Classical Period. Picasso has left out all the detail here but we get the impression that Mother and Child are sitting with the sea and sky behind them. The artists doesn’t always have to put a lot of color or detail in a painting to make it interesting. He challenges us to use our imagination when we look at this painting.

*Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago

Here is the 1st Grader Art Appreciation mother and child powerpoint if you’d rather use it this way.

By the way, do you all know Art History Mom? Her stunning blog delves into all things Art History for kids, and I’m a regular reader.

Here are the rest of the K-5Art History for Kids presentations. I will update them weekly, so check back every Friday!

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. Love this! Thank you so much for sharing! I didn’t recognize the third painting as Picasso without looking at your notes.

    • Nice! You got to sneak in a little art history-learnin’ too. It’s funny how many styles Picasso used…

  2. Woot! Can’t wait to read this with my son in 3rd grade. He loved the K one!

    • It’ll be a little variation on a theme, Mia- tell him not to worry; we’ll get past the Mother and Child theme next week 🙂

  3. This is a wonderful second installment! I love the questions you pose and the works chosen. I’m sharing this with my “arty” mom friends!

    • Well, thank ya! I hope they enjoy it with their kids.

  4. My son in third grade says, “I like all of three of the paintings.”

    • That’s freaking adorable, Mia. (So do I.)

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