The Ballets Russes and Preschoolers

Currently the National Gallery of Art is hosting

1909 – 1929
When Art Danced with Music

As of yet all I’ve seen of it was a peek of the last room, but I have enjoyed the exhibition brochure which can be found here and created a couple of art lessons from it.  On our last adventure to the art gallery I discovered that the children were much more engaged seeing paintings we had already talked about and seen on the computer or colored.


Line Drawing

On page 9 of the brochure you will see a curtain design by Natalia Goncharova which she created for a performance of The Golden Cockerel.  First I briefly told my children the story of The Golden Cockerel and then handed them each a print of the curtain design along with a handout of my own design.  I instructed them first to find the shapes from the handout in the curtain design and then to try to draw these same shapes for themselves in black crayon on a piece of watercolor paper.  Since my children are so little I really should have walked them through how to draw the figures step by step.  They tried to draw a little, asked for help and added their own designs.  They finished by painting over their drawings in watercolor.  As they painted we listened to The Golden Cockerel off of YouTube.



On page 14 of the brochure is a set design by Giorgio de Chirico for The Ball.  I first explained to my children how drawing can be a bit of a magic trick – creating the appearance of depth on a flat surface.  I gave them each a simplified line drawing of the scene and then showed them step by step how I had drawn it on the chalk board.  They finished the lesson by painting the scene with watercolors.  My eldest, almost six, was very interested in looking at the original painting on the computer screen and copying the colors.  As you can see from her painting below she was very concerned with authenticity and insisted that I include the mouse in my drawing.


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