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Art Begins With the Very Young

Emeline Petrie Steinthal tells us how art training begins even in the very little. In “Art Training in the Nursery”, Steinthal explains that beauty should exist in their surroundings, such as in their rooms. Carefully chosen paintings, harmonious lines and features and good colors within the room can begin a young child’s exposure to seeing beauty and, in turn, to seeking it.

As the very young begin to grow old enough to listen to stories and books, consider choosing the latter with well-done children’s illustrations. These too build the young child’s exposure to beauty and art.

When teaching art, and specifically drawing, consider the importance of keeping the child interested, letting them draw what interests them. Also, remember that not all drawing and art involves pencil and paper. “The chief value of drawing is that it trains the eye to see things as they are, and this training can be given in many ways” (Steinthal 33). For example, children can use scissors and paper for cutting out shapes or play with dough or clay to discover form.

From the Parents’ Review article “Brush Drawing”, Mrs. H. Perrin instructs on some of the finer details for brushwork. She begins with the very young and methods which would cultivate their interest and skills. Nursery-aged children can draw from memory on a blackboard with chalk. A large blackboard and chalk is placed in the room and children are encouraged to draw freely. As sensitive children may not wish to have their work erased, a modern adaptation would be for each child to have access to a large sheet of paper and crayons, chalk, or pencils or their own. Large paper allows for the child to use their arm more freely while drawing and is more developmentally appropriate as well. Children can also be encouraged to practice their strokes in the air before applying them to paper, allowing for the final strokes to be more practiced.

In Part II, Perrin continues her article with a focus on brush work. Here now the work requires some development in fine motor control, so these lessons may need to be held back until this time. She contends that children should be taught the methods needed to achieve the colors they wish, including keeping brushes clean and colors free from running together. Lessons should also include how to gradate colors, with some work focused on just this.

Perrin writes:

They can also be directed to gradate shades of the same color, or different colors one into the other, as seen in the rainbow, sunset, petals of flowers, etc. Let them gradate a plain tint from the top of the paper downwards, and beginning with a full brush from left to right, guide the floating color down the paper, taking more water and less color as they proceed, a dryer brush can be used to suck up any surplus quantity of color. The tint when finished must be a flat one, though gradated, without any unevenness or brush mark. Very pretty effects can be produced by one touch of say purple and another brush of yellow color laid at the side of it, so that the two unite while wet, making an exquisite gradation most useful in flower painting and design (453-457).

Using a brush requires practice with regard to how much paint to use, how much pressure to apply and at what angle to handle the brush. All of these techniques are important in creating the desired result. Perrin writes, “I mentioned before that the brush is capable of giving various impressions of form in mass according to the angle at which it is placed on the paper and the amount of pressure used; it is well for children to notice these forms and to practice all in different directions, not forgetting the line work with the point of the brush” (453-457). Again, a pencil is not used when working with a brush. The brush and paint will achieve the outcome without it.

Author’s Note:

As I’m just beginning to dig much deeper into the realm of art technique as embraced by Charlotte Mason and the PNEU, I recognize that I still have a great deal more to learn. I hope to add more notes and better build my curriculum on these improved notes over time. I too still have many questions I hope to answer soon.

I did edit the quotes with regard to spelling, changing words from British to American spelling.

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