Visit a Local  Art Gallery  – Discover the magic of a whole new world!

It is curious how many adults or children have never ventured into either a public art gallery or a commercial art shop.   Visiting an art gallery is like discovering a whole new world of colour, interpretation and imagination and can provide a very relaxing and interesting experience for all.   

It provides a wonderful opportunity to develop and expand a child’s expressive language, as you and your children discuss paintings and scenes  you like or find surprising.  Why not set aside a morning or an afternoon and, as a family, explore some local galleries. 

 The question for many is exactly how do you ‘read’ or view a painting?  Wall hung art work usually is made with oils, water colour paints, pastels or chalk, or charcoal.  Have your children try to guess the medium used.  Before the invention of the printing press, art was created and hung in homes to tell a story.  With this in mind, when you and your children look at a painting, either of one created by one of the old great masters or one of a contemporary style, ask your children “What  is the story the artist is trying to convey?”  Children’s observational skills will be expanded as they check lighting angles to determine the time of day being depicted.  Try to guess who the people are in the picture.  Look at the background for scenery clues as to the period of time being represented.  Analyze the expressions of the people in the picture, and discuss the emotions in the scene, or try to guess what the person is thinking or about to say!

Art comes in a wide range of styles as well.  Explore them all!   Do you prefer the restful country or nature scenes?  Do you like ‘pretty’ pictures, or the ones that make you work to try to figure out their message?  Contemporary art, collages or abstract art might be your preference.  Canadian artists have their own unique style: from the Group of Seven, Emily Carr’s interpretation of the west coast, David Blackwood and Pratt depicting the east coast, or Alex Colville’s powerful pieces to name just a few. 

 Art shops and galleries can be found along the main street or near the shopping areas of Oakville, Clarkson, Port Credit and Burlington.  Check your newspapers for summer art fairs where you can chat with the local artist as you inspect their creative works!

 After visiting your traditional art galleries, be sure to stop by their souvenir art shop.  They generally carry affordable posters of the masters, memorabilia, and assorted art based games for children.  Drop by a craft shop and pick up a sketching pad, some pastels or charcoal, a paint by number set, or even some chunky chalk for sidewalk or driveway ‘big’ art creations for your young budding artist. 

Touring art galleries can be a fun and stimulating experience for family fun and adventure, creating shared experiences for all to remember.  Opening up a child’s eyes in such a different venue stimulates the mind and enriches the soul.

Published in the Oakville Today newspaper – Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Linda Sweet  M.S. Ed.
Founder and Director, Glenburnie School
Pre-School to Grade 8
Providing a progressive and innovative private school education.