We’ve been working through our six-week unit study on Mary Cassatt and I wanted to create a simple art project that would inspire my kids to draw like our artist and be exposed to a new art medium.
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Teaching Kids to Draw like Mary Cassatt
Pastels – We used oil pastels, but you could really use any art medium you have in your home already. We don’t use oil pastels for everyday coloring, so using them for this project made it special. Also, some of Mary Cassatt’s own masterpiece’s were in pastels.
Watercolor paper – or cardstock. Use canvas or nice paper gives the impression to your kids that you are working on an art project, not just doodling on paper. There are lots of benefits to doodling on paper! But for this project, I encouraged the kids to take their time and add lots of detail to their drawing.
Examples of Mary Cassatt’s work – especially those that focus on multiple people. We love Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason, but you can also view Cassatt’s art online.
Picture Study and Discussion
First, we started by viewing some of Mary Cassatt’s paintings. Mary Cassatt is well known for her paintings of mothers with their children. As we looked at these paintings, I asked the following questions.
“Who do you see in these pictures?” Some answers were “A mother and her baby” or “A mommy and daddy with their child”. I would ask, “Why do you think they are related?” And then we discuss how Cassatt painted the people looking toward each other in a familiar way or perhaps the baby has a hand on the mother’s face that indicates a close relationship.
“What types of things are the people doing?” And we discuss how Cassatt found beauty in everyday life, often painting people doing everyday, normal things like giving a child a bath or brushing their hair.
I instructed the kids to think about what they wanted to draw, but to choose a design that included people. I wanted them to draw the people in a way that anyone looking at their drawing could guess what relationship was represented. They could draw a mother and child, a husband and wife, brothers, etc. Also, they should draw them doing everyday things like Cassatt did.
First they drew their pictures in pencil, so they could erase mistakes as needed. Then they added color with pastels. This project wasn’t about drawing perfectly, but instead I wanted to convey to the kids that art often conveys meaning and emotion and tells a story.
When the students were finished, I encouraged them to share their pictures and tell the story of the relationships that they represented.
To learn more about teaching kids about Mary Cassatt and other artists, including FREE 6 week unit studies, be sure to check out my Project Masterpiece post.
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