Impressionism, Expressionism and The Planets (Or, Enjoying Your Child’s Art Part 2)

Rockstar comes in the door after school one day, interrupting one of Little Miss’ playdates.

Me: Hello, darling, how was school?

Rockstar: (All nonchalant) It was fine, I guess. 

One of my mum friends: What did you learn at school today?

Rockstar: We learned about the paintings by Claude Monet. His style is Impressionism. We looked at his painting with the bridge and water lilies. I think there’s a picture in (one of) the baby book(s). 

He means this one

He means this one

(Walks on through living room and in for his bath. Am I the only one who finds it hilarious when my tiny, super-serious 5.5 year old uses “Claude Monet” and “Impressionism” to describe his day at school in exactly the same way he would’ve mentioned someone finding a spider on the playground? ….Actually so, he would probably describe the spider more excitedly…)

Learning unit in Rockstar's diary

Learning unit in Rockstar’s diary

Now, as someone who has been trolling the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York website for about a decade, I was especially gleeful to learn Rockstar would have art projects from this learning unit involving how famous artists in history have done it.

I wish Rockstar was more into art, but he is a real math and science boy. Left to his own devices, he might tell you why Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system and exactly how hot it gets there, despite Mercury being the closest planet to the sun because it has a thin atmosphere that fails to trap heat.

Greenhouse Effect during school Environment Week was an extremely relatable topic to him – because of what happened to Venus (I’m not kidding).



Below the paintings in this activity page, he’d written “My favorite painting is number one because I think meteorolog(ists) study it and I like it because it reminds me of planets.” 

Though as a class they did the concentric circles one:

Our fave!

Our fave!

Rockstar was taught how to handle the brush for this watercolor, mopping up any access water as he did the concentric circles (and learnt the term concentric circles) while listening to jazz the way Wassily Kandinsky did it. Periodically the children would be asked why they were choosing certain colors to suit the music, why they thought blue fit the “moodier” piece being played and so on. I really, really liked that the brush strokes make it look like the circles are pulsing to the music. I will probably reframe it a few times before I’m satisfied. Second trip to Ikea coming up this afternoon.

Because of the strokes and music, I then told Rockstar how deaf people might appreciate music via their heightened other senses, like pulsing lights or vibrations. Beethoven sawed the legs off his piano and lay on the ground to feel the vibrations when he composed, as he became more and more deaf. I am just steeling myself for when Rockstar requests to do that with my old electronic piano, but so far he has asked how you explain art, color to a blind person.

Rockstar proudly hanging it on the wall

Rockstar proudly hanging it on the wall

Little Miss watched us frame and hang these, “strategically” on the facing wall from her feeding chair.



And of course there was this one earlier on which has now arrived home from school, inspired by Paul Klee’s self portrait (Rockstar was watching me type this – and remarked he doesn’t think Klee is an Impressionist, but anyway)…

Paul-Klee photo-1354

Ready, set, appreciate art. Her Highness granting an audience. Ta-ra, ta-raa...

Ready, set, appreciate art. Her Highness granting an audience. Ta-ra, ta-raa…

(And let's be all demure about it)

(And let’s be all demure about it)

Oh, and this one done earlier wasn’t about the Great Masters but is another large one about the water cycle that will be going in Kings’ new office when I get a large enough frame,,.

This is about the water cycle, but it could pass for a viking battle :D and it is probably going in Kings' new office when I get a large enough frame

About the water cycle, but I think it could pass for a viking battle 😀 

Thing is, unless they make him at school, Rockstar is not going to remember (or really, care) about anything Van Gogh, Paul Klee, Kandinsky or Matisse (all of whom are artists he has learnt in school this past year, and more – and how impressed am I, he even has a classmate who will be viewing the actual great works on a trip to Paris this summer? Hopefully I get some excuse with Her Highness; Rockstar’ll have a fit if we nix his skiing to go look at some paintings <snort> and it’s not exactly Kings’ favorite thing to do either. The only time I got an interested reaction out of the younger Mens at home was when I told him Vincent Van Gogh cut his own ear off and gave it to someone wrapped in newspaper, after a fight with Paul Gauguin.)

Thought this was really cute though :D

HAHAHA (this is from his diary – he could spell “Impressionism” but not “Sponges”??? :D)

(There was also “Impressionism is painting everything in dots”. I asked him what it meant yesterday (i.e. at the end of the unit and really, the school year), he now says “Painting things that don’t really look like what they look like in real life but experiments in feelings.”)

As they say in Singlish: Chim siah.

(Trans: “That’s deep”.)

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
Posted in School For Rockstar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments
  • jk

    wah! what big big word he uses.. :) I am impressed with Rockstar. Totally cool dude. My kids not arty..just like me. That’s a pretty cool school that he goes to. :)

    • Aileen

      Agree, never knew they learn all this stuff in school nowadays, I don’t know all of it either 😀

  • mun

    Woah, all this is deep. I only know about all these artists when I am oh so very old.

    I like how Miss Rockstar is smiling oh so very shyly at mommy and her camera and then looking away with the smile still on her face.

    I say the “viking battle” watercolour piece is really a classic. Can Rockstar tell a story about his this work?

    • Aileen

      Ok ok hang on ah, bit tied up at mom but will try… I didn’t know all the artists (only some) til his school… Can’t remember what she was doing to have that expression, she’s getting to b quite active clambering everywhere so it’s not that common…