Lending color to Monet
Building on its successful partnership with Credit Suisse and City Year UK, the National Gallery expanded its bespoke Education Program to primary schools in London, thus helping children acquire an early taste of color and brush.
Initially designed to bring arts education to at-risk secondary students who might not otherwise visit the Gallery or engage with the Gallery's collection, the Arts Education program, delivered in partnership with City Year UK, was recently extended to reach a younger audience. Over the course of two weeks in June, arts educators from the National Gallery worked with over 210 students at 3 primary schools in London to bring Monet's art into the classroom and encourage pupils' artistic expression. These in-school sessions introduced students to focus paintings from the exhibition as well as Monet's style and use of color and light. Students then had the opportunity to try these techniques – learning to mix colors and experiment with brushstrokes to create their own works of art.
Students were enthusiastic as they worked on their color wheels, amazed by the many colors they could create using only the yellow, blue, red and white paint they'd been provided with. "The color wheel was my favorite part," said one student. "Because it includes all the colors of the rainbow, and I like rainbows."
In the second half, students further developed their work, painting canvases and creating miniature sets, which included architectural elements inspired by the buildings and structures in their communities. "I like painting the canvases best, because it's someone else's art, but we're making it our own," another student noted.
As requests for refills of different colored paint were called out from various tables, some students found art in unexpected places – requesting to take home the paper plates they'd used as pallets and the paper towel they'd used to wipe their brushes.
One of the classroom teachers explained that the students don't have opportunities to do a lot of art in year 6 and that the school had been exploring ways to help its students alleviate stress following their end of year exams and as they prepared for secondary school interviews. He noted that many of them are glued to their digital devices, and that he hopes programs like this will inspire them to use their time in other ways, to share what they've learned with their families and perhaps even encourage a visit to a museum.