Experience Art With Your Grandchildren

  • 01 of 03

    Seek Out Art

    grandchildren at art museum
    Art museums are great, but they aren't the only places to experience art with the grandchildren. Grant Fant | Getty Images

    Most of us are not artists, but everyone can be appreciators of art.That's what many grandparents want for their grandchildren. Grandparents can be key players in making that happen. These strategies for experiencing art with grandchildren aren't costly or difficult, and they will increase your own art smarts, too..

    Go in Search of Art

    The first step is to seek out art. Of course you should take your grandchildren to art museums, but there are many other places to find art. Public places...MORE often contain art, and it's just a matter of slowing down long enough to experience it.

    Children love outdoor sculptures, and many museums have wonderful installations. But you can also find sculptures in parks, gardens, zoos and urban spaces. If you take your grandchildren to a sculpture garden, you may see warnings not to touch the artwork. But in many outdoor areas, visitors are free to touch and otherwise interact with the art. If you are unsure what the rules are, do a web search or make a phone call before you go so that you'll know what to tell the grandchildren. Sharing expectations for their behavior is a key component in enjoying outings with grandchildren.

    Galleries are great for experiencing art, too, but many are not kid-friendly and may hold visitors responsible for breakage. Outdoor festivals often have art for sale in a less intimidating setting. Restaurants, corporate offices, libraries and universities are other places that often feature interesting pieces or entire exhibits.

    How to Look at Art

    Once you are planted in front of a piece of art, resist giving a lecture. Instead, ask the grandchildren open-ended questions. "What do you see?" and "How do you think the artist made this?" are good ones.

    It's okay to point out the little label that tells about the artist and the medium, but, again, try to give only the information that the child is interested in and ready for.

    On the other hand, if you see a piece of art that stirs your passion, or one about which you know a great deal, it's okay to let your enthusiasm show.

    Another fun way to experience art is by looking at it from different perspectives, including close up and far away. Of course, if you are in a museum, you shouldn't get too close.

    Take a picture of the pieces that your grandchildren really like, so that they can share them with their parents, other family members or friends. You might want to create a slide show or photo book of favorite pieces.

    Seeing art with grandchildren is like seeing it twice. You'll see it through their eyes and through your own. 

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  • 02 of 03

    Help the Grandchildren Create Art

    grandmother and grandchild enjoy art together
    Experimenting with art supplies can enhance a grandchild's understanding of art. Kidstock | Getty Images

    ​To get grandchildren to create art, just provide supplies and step back, right? This method may work for a few select children, but most of our grandchildren will need a little more help.

    How to Help

    There's nothing wrong with teaching children to draw, or with giving them some help with other forms of artistic expression. Whether it's dressing themselves, riding a bike or learning to read, children seldom pick up skills completely on their own. Even great chefs get started by following...MORE someone else's recipe.

    When your grandchild creates art, don't be judgmental as that can crush creativity. (It's best not to overpraise, either.) Feel free to demonstrate a technique or give pointers in how best to use materials. And do use the vocabulary of art. Being introduced to terms such as balance, movement and pattern in the context of art can help a child to experience art more fully.

    Imitation is Okay

    Children will benefit from learning to copy favorite characters or scenes. They can make their own creations once they feel in control of their materials. These cartooning lessons are a fine place to start. 

    I also like encouraging children to imitate the masters. If you've been educating your grandchildren about art through visiting museums, reading books about art and looking at art online, you'll be ready to drip and splatter like Jackson Pollock, work with blocks of color like Mondrian or utilize pointillism like Georges Seurat. You can probably figure out how to do these projects on your own, but if you need inspiration, just search online for "fine art projects for kids."

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  • 03 of 03

    Find Art in Everyday Life

    Grandchildren can be taught to see art in everyday objects.
    Appreciating the beauty of ordinary objects is good art training for grandchildren. Art Flow | Getty Images

    To a certain extent, art is about the appreciation of beauty. Your grandchildren will grow in their knowledge about art and their appreciation of art if they know how to look for beauty and how to describe it when they see it. Model this skill by pointing out striking shades and interesting shapes and patterns when you see them in both the natural and the man-made world. 

    Things to Look For

    Here are some examples of impromptu art lessons that you can share with grandchildren.

    • Reflections can be...MORE used to talk about symmetry and mirror images. 
    • When you see a rainbow, talk about the color spectrum and how a rainbow is created. (A little science, too!) Or use fine spray from a water hose to create your own rainbow on a sunny day. 
    • Look closely at natural items such as leaves, moss, tree bark and rocks, observing patterns and textures. You can do rubbings, too.

    Use a Camera

    A camera is a great tool for capturing images so that you can talk about them. Your cell phone will take images that are good enough for this purpose. 

    Take pictures of the items listed above, so you can better analyze and discuss them. In addition, you can experiment with different perspectives and kinds of lighting. In order to increase their understanding of perspective, take pictures of items from different angles, especially geometric objects.

    If you use a camera to capture images, your grandchildren may also become interested in photography as an art form. Pique their interest by having some of their work printed. Put in inexpensive frames and display. So much photography is shared digitally today, and that's fine. But having a photograph where it is seen daily helps to elevate it to the status of art.

    We've all heard the phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but that's the best place to find art, too.