How to Talk to Children about Art

by Lookomorie Blog

Getting Started

Have you ever thought, "How do I introduce my children to the world of art?"
The art world can be intimidating, and introducing children to it may be challenging. However, Francoise Barbe-Gall, a former student of art history at the Sorbonne and present-day teacher at the Ecole du Louvre, offers some note-worthy advice in her book "How to Talk to Children About Art":


- Try to find a museum not too far from your home, especially for the first few visits.
- Explain to your child beforehand what behavior is expected in the museum.
- Follow your child’s interest; do not stop them if they pass well-known art in the museum. Instead, see what paintings or sculptures they stop at and try to understand what aspects of the piece capture their attention.
- Give your child a choice, and trust their choice. Their choice may surprise or disappoint you, but it is important to start with something that they choose themselves.

Do Not:

- Go to the museum on a rainy day; you don’t want to create the association that museum visits are for days when there is nothing else to do!
- Be afraid to come back to the painting that your child liked. It is very common for children to come back to favorite books, songs and art.

What art might attract young children?

Francoise Barbe-Gall explains that kids from 5 to 7 years of age tend to like:
- Warm, bright colors! According to statistics, children are especially drawn to the color red.
- Different forms and contrasting colors without shades – like pop art!
- Textures that you want to touch or feel
- Paintings of animals and people as well as easily recognizable landscapes (fields, gardens, houses). Many children love impressionist paintings – consider exhibitions featuring impressionist work from artists like Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Renoir.
On the other hand, kids from 8 to 10 years old tend to like:
- Bright and contrasting colors – these are a favorite!
- Characters, regardless of whether they are good, bad, strong, or weak.
- Strange figures or beasts – when children look at these kinds of paintings they often start fantasizing of being a part of its story.

In Conclusion

According to Barbe-Gall, learning why your child may be interested in a specific painting is much more valuable to you than making sure they learn to appreciate a well-known piece of art. Try not to tell your child about everything you are going to see in the museum - let them discover art for themselves, and give them time to think and understand what they feel while looking at a painting. Not only does this develop skills of concentration, observation, and empathy, but this will give them the great joy of discovering art for themselves!

Francoise Barbe-Gall's advice provides a strong foundation for understanding how your child thinks in relation to art. To get started exploring the world of art with your child, and read about art history, we urge you to look at our collection of books by the publisher «Ad Marginem». They focus on many different paintings and styles, as well as art history, and provide a multitude of art examples that you can discuss with your children after your visit to the museum. Take a look, and happy reading!

**Cover photo by Diogo Fagundes on Unsplash

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