I wanted to introduce the children in this group to a classic artist, and so I chose one of my favorites, Gustav Klimt. Aside from his works having a warm and magical feel to them, I thought it was important for the children to look at an image that would contain many small details. I chose The Kiss because this painting would be perfect for discussion and recreation. The image encourages the children to focus, to look closer at each detail. It provides a platform for me to ask questions with answers that continue to change and develop the longer they observe the painting.
When children discuss art, there are multiple positive actions taking place. To begin with, the child learns to observe, think, and then express what they have seen and how that image makes them feel, or what it reminds them of. They learn to name their emotions and share their ideas with a group of others. In discussing an observation, there is never an exact answer to be given. Each child will see the piece uniquely. As they learn to share their own observations, they equally learn to listen to those of others. They respect different views and opinions and this is an essential skill in growing as a balanced person.
When looking at this image, I asked the children, “What do you see? How does the initial image change as you look closer? What are the small details that compose a larger picture? How do you think the artist felt making it? How do the subjects in the painting feel? Do you like the way you feel when you look at it?”
My favorite answer from the children was that many of them believed that the woman was sleeping, and almost all of them, on first observation, did not recognize that there were two figures. Discovering the different ways that each child viewed The Kiss was truly amazing, and watching them transform it as they made their own versions was even more impressive.