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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Little Green - Fun Abstracting lesson for kids

Little Green by Keith Baker is a great little book. It is a book about a little boy watching a hummingbird flying around while he paints the bird’s motion. It is a spectacular little lesson in Abstracting. This technique is used at Modern Art classes or Museums to teach adults, the concept of Abstracting.
My 3 year old was quite fascinated by this book. We have been spotting hummingbirds in our courtyard for the last few months. His familiarity with hummingbirds surely added to his excitement. By the time we read the book 4-5 times he was convinced that he too wants to paint the motions of a hummingbird. Since we have a very small patio I could not create the painting set up there. A common courtyard for the condo complex is certainly not a place to do so. And honestly, I think a hummingbird is too fast for a 3 year old to paint. Even the kid in the book is not so young. But I did not want to pass up on this exciting activity either.

Finally I decided to do the motions myself. That ways I could do it at a slower pace and repeat a given motion till I got a feel for how long it takes him to make sense of my motion and paint it. I am no dancer but it worked out really well. If you have a willing sibling or a pet to spare you from doing this, by all means go for it. As for our painting activity, I was thrilled to see that he had very unique interpretations of my motions. Even when I did some of the motions mentioned in the book he did not imitate the illustrations in the book. I wish I can do this with couple more kids at the same time. I feel pretty sure they will all have their own interpretation of my motions.

My little boy so enjoyed it that he has requested several times to repeat it. It was really gratifying for me that he could get a lesson in Abstracting in such a fun and easy manner. After all abstracting is such a fundamental and transferrable skill. Most innovation is driven by understanding the essence of one phenomenon and applying it to something else to create something entirely different.
Even Picasso painted his girlfriend weaving (Artist and Model), by just painting the motions of her hands and her body. He even added himself in the painting while in the act of painting her. Apart from obvious applications as painting, this skill can manifest itself when an engineer designs an airplane inspired by a hawk. Or when a basketball player perfects those tear drop or rainbow shots. That’s how Vivaldi encompassed ‘spring’ in musical notes.
Know any other cool ideas to teach abstracting? Please do share them in the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts about abstracting too.