Let’s Learn : Discovering Art

I haven’t talked about our home education journey for a while here at The Spotlesspinata Blog, so I thought I’d pop a little post up today.

It’s been going fabulously! We have our good and bad days of course especially when hospital trips have to be factored in but on a whole, learning has been great fun. Sullivan has been progressing steadily in all aspects of his studies and has grown tremendously in confidence.

This week, we’ve been focusing on the growth of the railways in the UK in History and Geography, stored and potential energies in Science and London artist Julian Opie. I thought I’d chat about our recent art lesson as it we had such a good time learning and exploring together. Below is a write up, which I tend to do on our more practical subjects where sheets or coursework are less.

An Art Study of Julian Opie’s Work

Sullivan and I started off by looking through a selection of images provided by a Twinkl resource I prepared earlier of people making various shapes and movements with their bodies. We thought about and discussed these prompts for each photo:

  • What can you see in the photo?
  • If there were sounds for this photo, what would the sounds be?
  • Why do you think this photo was created?
  • What shapes and colours can you see in the photo?

Sullivan described all of the photos with some excellent notice of detail. He was very sure that the old man was falling over but also understood my view that he might have been doing a funny walk. He explained the man by the pool might have been on holiday as it looked like a relaxing environment and he was reading a book. He was a little confused by the dancing lady and focused more on the fact it looked like her arm was an “optical illusion coming out of her head”. He was very excited to demonstrate which sounds or music he felt would accompany each photo such as energetic dance music or relaxing seas pushing against the sands. He also thought about personal and business reasons as to why the photos could have been taken e.g for memories of a special day, or advertising a beach holiday or dance lesson.

He pointed out various shapes in each photo and discussed the colours too. He pointed out the photos which had less colour diversity and these were the ones he found hardest to analyse. He decided some photos made him feel happy and relaxed, one made him feel a bit grumpy and one made him laugh a lot.

We then experimented with making our own body shapes, while thinking about the photo prompts we had just talked about. Sullivan enjoyed this immensely. He made long, short, wide and thin shapes with his body. He made the shape of a table, car and frog. He made a growing shape and a spinning shape. He made himself very hot! We then talked about conveying emotions through shape, he chose sad (where he curled into a ball with his head lowered) and happy (star-jumped into the air).

Next, Sullivan read about British artist Julian Opie from another Twinkl resource I had prepared. He also enjoyed looking through Julian Opie’s website. We then found and printed out some examples of his work. I asked Sullivan to look at some of the art Opie has created and consider the question prompts again, adding in an extra question at the end: What do you think the art was created with? At first, Sullivan said ‘drawings’ but I asked him to look deeper into each piece and the website as a whole. He realised that Opie’s work consisted of print, digital art, paint and sculpture. He particularly enjoyed the figure made of LED lights.

Walking Outside The Hugh Lane Gallery by Julian Opie

Sullivan recognised that a lot of pieces had “floating heads” which disturbed him a little! He found it “annoying” that the heads weren’t attached and weren’t “normal”, so we discussed how art can portray the human body in many ways, it doesn’t have to be anatomically correct. The realisation that heads don’t have to be attached seemed to unlock a freedom in Sully’s mind and he began to really enjoy looking through all of the pieces. Sullivan explained how he realised a lot of Opie’s work is based around bodies and the shapes they create. He also noticed Opie’s work is simplified with plain, undetailed features or indeed, no features at all. Again, he questioned how this could be “proper art” but then remembered our earlier discussion about freedom of expression and style.

Elena Schoolgirl
by Julian Opie

I asked Sullivan to draw his version of a Julian Opie inspired figure. He chose a bright yellow background and sketched out a design. He chose to draw himself. He noted that he would have to pick ‘two or three colours to be like Julian Opie’s art’ and selected peach for his skin, blue for his t-shirt and black for his trousers. He finished his piece off by outlining his drawing with a thick black marker. He was extremely proud with the finished result and exclaimed “I actually really like Julian Opie’s art now!”

How do you explore art at home? Has your child got a favourite artist or have you visited a fantastic exhibition you’d like to share? Let me know below!

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