What is Art?

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Year 3 child’s sketchbook page.

After the summer holidays, one of the first lessons I like to teach in the new school year is to explore the question, What is Art?

Initially children often answer, “Painting” or “Drawing”. Painting or drawing are usually mentioned before sculpture or making. Sculpture or making is usually mentioned before printing. And printing is usually mentioned before textiles or digital art. This can vary from year group to year group, and is always an interesting piece of assessment.

Once we’ve got the different media established, we move on to discuss what is painted or drawn, or made or printed? Where does the subject matter come from?

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Year 5 child’s sketchbook page.

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Year 3 child’s sketchbook page.

Then we talk about how art can make us feel. Images of both figurative and abstract art are provided as stimuli for discussion, and we notice how we all see different things and how different art works can make us feel in different ways.

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Year 2 child’s sketchbook page.

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Year 3 child’s sketchbook page.

Exploring the question, What is Art? gets the children ready for developing their critical thinking skills in art over the year ahead. Another question might be, Can Anything be Art?, which would make an interesting philosophical enquiry.

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