I love this way of looking at paintings- especially for young kids. You take 2 paintings with similar themes and compare and contrast them. Simple and effective in getting their eyes scouring the paintings and taking all the details in.
Here’s the Powerpoint presentation for Umbrellas and Parasols if you want to download it.
Give the children a few moments to look at these. (See the larger images at the bottom of the post) Identify the paintings by name. Explain that these paintings are both at the Art Institute. Ask if any one of the children have ever been to the Art Institute. Urge them to visit with their own families.
Think about the paintings – same and different: Have the children look carefully at the two paintings and name some things that they see in both of them. (people, clothing, animals, umbrellas, the use of color, shape, line, etc.)
Explain that artists often paint similar subjects but that each does it in their own way.
Have the children point out some of the differences in the two paintings.
- One is a rainy day; the other sunny.
- One is a city street; the other a park.
- In Rainy Day the people are walking or actively moving; in Sunday Afternoon almost everyone seems frozen in place.
- The brushstrokes are quite different. In Rainy Day the colors are smoothly blended; in Sunday Afternoon the artist applied dots and dabs of color.
Neither artist has painted either raindrops or the sun. Ask the children how they can tell whether it’s a rainy day or a sunny day. (Shiny streets, gray sky and umbrellas show up in Rainy Day; dark shadows, sunlit area, and blue sky show up in Sunday Afternoon, etc.
Ask the children if they know what an umbrella is and what it is used for (to keep out the rain). Ask them if they know what a parasol is and what it is used for (to keep out the sun.) In which painting do they see umbrellas and in which do they see parasols?
Ask the children to try to determine when the paintings were painted (over 100 years ago) and how they can tell (the clothing, the horse and carriage, etc.) Ask the children how this is the same as or different from the way things are today in our own world. Explain that by looking at works of art from the past we can often find out how people lived in the past.
Introducing the element of art, shape:
Remind the children that all artists make use of color in their artworks, something that was discussed in the Mother and Child program. Artists also use shapes in their paintings. Have the children look at Rainy Day and identify the shapes the artist used. (Square paving stones, circular wheels, rectangular windows, triangular building and rooftop decoration, half-circle umbrellas, etc.) These shapes are similar to the shapes we see when we go for a walk in our own neighborhood. Remind the children that all artists, even the children themselves, make use of shapes in their artworks.
Direct the children’s attention to Sunday Afternoon. There are many shapes in this painting but they don’t all have easily identifiable names. Rather than ask the children to name the shapes, ask them to discuss which objects have similar shapes. (The curved shape of the umbrella is repeated in the women’s dresses and in the dog’s tail; many of the hats are similarly shaped. There are circles in some hats and triangles in some boats; most people are shown from the side, in profile, and are facing the same direction, toward the water.) Help the children to understand that the artist chose these shapes and colors to make a design that he was pleased with.
Here is where you can see all of the art history presentations for kids.