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What Art Can Tell You About Your Child (page 2)

What Art Can Tell You About Your Child

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Updated on Dec 18, 2012

Some Postimpressionist artists exist outside of the genre because their styles were so unique, like Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Picasso. Van Gogh used thick, swirling brushstrokes and vivid colors. If your child is drawn to Van Gogh's recognizable style, he may have a strong sense of self and particular interests. Cezanne, a painter of the outdoors, broke up his canvases into blocks of colors and shapes, so many of his works look unfinished. Likewise, Picasso, a Cubist, divided his paintings into flat, rectangular surfaces, which illustrated objects from different angles (see his Portrait of Ambroise Vollard). If your child likes this "fragmented" art, she may be analytical, comfortable with abstract ideas, and able to identify (or control) her emotions. Related traits: methodical, emotionally intelligent, exploratory.

The Surrealists, such as Dali and Magritte, were wacky and nonsensical: think elephants on stilts and melting clocks in eerie landscapes. In Surrealism, “the subconscious mind – not rational thought – held the key to the truth about the real world,” writes Mason. If your child prefers these dreamscapes, or the absurd artworks by the Dadaists – namely Duchamp’s famous urinal, Fountain – he has a vivid imagination, an understanding of others’ ideas and inner thoughts, and an ability to identify subtext in art, media, and culture. Related traits: intuitive, introspective, daring.

Abstract expressionists like Pollock and Rothko moved far from nonrepresentational art: Pollock spattered paint on a large canvas, creating tails and blobs of paint that directly expressed the emotions he felt, and also showed the actual process of art: a technique called action painting. Rothko is known for his color fields – like Untitled (Orange and Yellow) – to which viewers respond based on the way the colors and shapes interact with each other. Your child may be drawn to the mental energy generated by both works: the sudden strokes of Pollock or the quiet, spiritual elements embedded in Rothko’s paintings. Related traits: observant, introverted, impulsive.

Islamic art is ornate, lush, and often embellished with gold. It is marked with an "arabesque" design, composed of repeating elements, like geometric patterns, floral designs, and calligraphy. Islamic art focuses on designs rather than figures, which symbolizes the infinite nature of Allah, the creator of the universe – although the art pertains to Islamic culture, not just religion. If your child likes these ornamental patterns, she has a liking for intricate and opulent décor, and probably envisions stories and ideas vividly in her mind. Related traits: conceptual, elaborate, abstract.

Japanese woodblock prints, or Ukiyo-e art, feature scenes of Japanese society, history, theater, and natural landscapes (check out Hiroshige’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji). These “pictures of the floating world” fuse traditional yet exotic iconography with dynamic, off-center compositions and colorful palettes. Your child may be attracted to the creative process of woodblock printing, or the simplicity and precision of Japanese art, which reflects a high intellectualism and maturity. Related traits: minimal, exact, sensible.

Of course, there are many other artistic styles which your child may identify with. A young art buff can discover more about art with books like Julie Appel’s Touch the Art Series and Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober’s Mini Masters board books, while your middle schooler or teen can check out Antony Mason’s A History of Western Art.

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