Sunday, May 17, 2015


When I was an elementary teacher in Calgary, AB, I had the opportunity to take my grade 3 class to Museum School at the Glenbow Museum for a week. It was a fantastic experience, and taught me as much (if not more) than the children! 

One of the most valuable things I learned was a method of teaching children of all ages, (and adults), an appreciation of art through what is known as The Feldman's Critique. I have used this approach ever since, whether with students, when I visit a museum, or when I look through my art books at some of the Old Master's paintings.

Over the next few blog posts, I will give you the version with which we taught children (versus the university model). Really, the questions are basically the same, just a different level of language. I find the children's set of questions more direct and meaningful.

You can use this way of viewing art from a very young child to adult - and once it becomes a way of thinking, art is appreciated from a completely different point of view.

Let's take a well known painting of a major 20th century French painter, Georges Braque who worked with, and was influenced by, Pablo Picasso. I had never been a fan of cubism until I saw a representation of Georges Braque's life work at the Guggenheim Museum in Spain a couple of years ago. Standing in front of these huge pieces, and seeing the true colors of them really made a difference to my appreciation of this form of art! There were actually several I would not hesitate to hang in my home. :-)

Violon et palette, winter 1909-1910
Georges Braque
So, using the Feldman Critique, the first time we view the art, we GET THE FACTS. You can have the children do this verbally, or you can have them write it down. In Museum School, we gave each child a special journal, and had them record in the journal. I think this is a good have them, in some way, record what their thoughts are. It helps to read these thoughts later in the process when making decisions about the work of art.

Here are the questions for GETTING THE FACTS:

Write about what you see in the work of art.  You are attempting to describe what you see. This might include observations about 
          - lines
          - shapes
          - colors
          - textures
          - objects
          - people
          - nature

What materials did the artist use to make the work?

What size is the art?


You can use the recorded information to read aloud, inviting several children to choose which painting they think it is from among a number of paintings. 

In Georges Braque's painting, Violon et palette, there is much to describe in terms of line, shape, colors, textures, objects, isn't there, even though it seems a fairly simple painting!

Next blog post, I will share the second step in appreciating art using the Feldman Critique. I think you will agree it is a valuable tool whether you are teaching your child, or visiting a museum yourself!

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