Art criticism is the discussion or evaluation of visual art. Evaluating art can be rough when we’re trying to convince kids to let go of their inhibitions and enjoy making for the sake of making. Evaluation and judgement can be harsh words. Use this free printable to gently introduce art criticism for kids in terms of the “art sandwich.”
I don’t claim the art sandwich as an original idea as I’ve seen it over and over, for years. But the concept bears repeating. Here’s my own unique take on the art sandwich and why your kids should get a taste of it!
Why criticize art at all….
Criticism is such a negative term. We’re really not here to criticize as much as slow down, look, and talk about art. We want to give kids the tools and vocabulary to decide how they feel about art; others and their own.
Looking at art…
There are a couple of steps to this process. The first is looking. Looking at something sounds easy, right? But in this age of instant gratification it can be difficult to slow down and really look at anything. This is true whether you’re ten or forty.
Asking kids to really look at a piece of art can be as easy as asking them describe it.
Tell someone about this artwork as if they cannot see it.
How are the elements of art used in this artwork?
How are the principles of design used in this artwork?
No value words are needed at this point. The artwork is not good, bad, ugly, or otherwise. This step is just about describing what we see.
Thinking about art….
This “thinking” step can have a couple of parts. First, ask kids to consider the steps it took to make this artwork they just described. Kids can wrap their heads around this literal process and have fun imagining making it themselves.
On a less literal level ask kids what story they think the artist tells. This question is especially fun when the artwork is more abstract or non-objective.
Does the artwork evoke a feeling or a memory?
What might happen next?
Check out this post for a free artist study printable and an extensive book list about talking to kids about art!
All of the steps above give the kids tools to decide what they think about a piece of artwork. They get to decide what it means to them and what feelings it stirs.
I think all of the above steps are good to be in the habit of doing out loud. Anytime there is art around, whether at a gallery or an art class, get your kiddo used to talking about it.
So where does this weird art sandwich thing fit in….
In addition to being able to apply these looking, talking, & deciding ideas to art done by artists long gone it’s nice for kids to be able to apply those same concepts to their own art and the art of their peers.
The art sandwich is an easy, super non-intimidating way of doing this.
The idea of the sandwich is taking two positive thoughts and sandwiching one suggestion in the middle. It’s not easy to hear something negative or even something that can be improved in your own art. But hearing a suggestion as constructive criticism is a good way to grow as an artist.
Encourage your kids to answer the questions on the printable in terms of a specific vocabulary word they might be studying or to incorporate the elements of art.
Use this free printable to allow kids a safe place to express thoughts and opinions
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