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What Art Can Tell You About Your Child

What Art Can Tell You About Your Child

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Updated on Dec 18, 2012

Art, far from a stuffy, straightforward school subject, is part of your child’s everyday life, whether he is left- or right-brained, or introverted or extroverted. "Art is a way of making a statement about the world, and expressing profound emotion,” writes author Antony Mason, who specializes in art books for young readers.

But, art can also say something about your child's personality, according to psychology professors at University College London. They explored the connection between art and personality and found that those who like neoclassical paintings and realistic landscapes tend to be less open to new experiences than those drawn to the abstract expressionist brushstrokes of Jackson Pollock. They also discovered that males prefer Renaissance artists, like Leonardo Da Vinci, while females are drawn to impressionism, like the light-infused, pastel works of Claude Monet.

While art curriculums in schools are among the first to be cut when a budget is tight, art remains a window into both natural and magical worlds. Art helps children understand other subjects much more clearly -- from math to geography, says Andrea Mulder-Slater, the co-founder of KinderArt, a website of art lesson plans and resources. Paintings and sculptures introduce kids to the human condition in a visual way, teaches them to respect other ways of thinking and working, and helps them communicate ideas in new ways, she says.

Peruse art's primary movements and artists below – and the personality traits associated with them. If your child dabbles with paints or scribbles with markers, chances are she may be responsive to a particular style. Some of the information below was gathered from the BBC's Art and Personality experiment, a psychology study that collected more than 100,000 survey results. Because art is malleable, these connections between painters and personalities should be interpreted loosely, and serve as an introduction to the vast world of art.

If your child likes the classical figures of the Renaissance, from the anatomically perfect and proportional bodies of Michelangelo (like those featured on the Sistine Chapel ceiling) to the romantic, feminine figures of Botticelli (see La Primavera), she may be idealistic, passionate about science, or comfortable with tradition. She may prefer to do things by-the-book – but does it well – and pays attention to detail and elements like perspective, depth, and symmetry. Related traits: conscientious, orderly, disciplined.

Impressionists, such as Renoir and Degas, captured the fleeting moment of the present. If your child loves being social, under the sun, or engaged in nature, she may prefer the Impressionist’s rapid brushstrokes and soft colors. Renoir’s La Moulin de la Galette, for example, reflects her cheerful mood and responsiveness to movement and light. Impressionists “were realists, but they were not interested in grim reality,” writes Mason. Your child likely views life through her own, often rose-tinted lens. Related traits: worldly, spontaneous, opinionated.

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