It was not that long ago that artistic techniques were as prescribed as scientific processes or mathematical equations. Critics and instructors frowned upon artists who looked to create outside the confinements of traditional methods. Kandinsky was one such artist, and fortunately for all of us, ignored his critics. He wanted art to inspire and make you feel, like music. He is credited with creating the first truly abstract works of art. The Noisy Paint Box gives an account of Kandinsky’s life and career in a children’s book, and served as the basis of our music-inspired process art, the next activity in our Art History for Preschool Series.
The Noisy Paint Box Process Art
The story of The Noisy Paint Box is one I think many preschoolers find freeing. Kandinsky, ridiculed by his parents, critics and teachers for years, didn’t think you had to paint reality, or identifiable objects. Instead, he wanted to art to evoke feeling, much like he felt while attending the opera.
Preschoolers, still honing their fine motor skills, will often grow frustrated or give up on art or a craft project because they feel their work doesn’t look right, or you, as an adult, aren’t able to decipher what they have created. The beauty of process art for kids is you simply provide the setting, environment and materials and they are free to create whatever they imagine.
Invitation to Paint with Music
To set the stage for our afternoon of painting, Big M and I first read The Noisy Paint Box. The end of the book also includes a brief history of Kandinsky, as well as examples of his work. We studied them – I asked her which was her favorite and why, and how the different works made her feel. At 4, I thought she would say she liked one because of one color or another – but after reading the book, she actually said one made her feel sad because of the dark colors.
Having read the story, I set her up to paint on her easel. The Crayola 3-in-1 Double Easel was her 2nd birthday gift, and it gets more action than most toys in the house. The girls love to play with magnets on it (storytelling with animal magnets and putting together letters now too), Big M likes to use dry erase markers to practice writing, and of course, they both love to paint. And with two sides, it’s awesome because they can both paint at the same time!
Cost: Less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes
Now, for the music. We used the hubby’s new favorite toy – the Bose Soundlink Wireless Speaker. I must admit, it’s pretty fun. You can sync your phone to it over Bluetooth, it weighs nothing and is only about 5″ square. Our soundtrack for the afternoon looked something like this:
- Tchaikovsky – selections from The Nutcracker
- Bach Violin Concertos
- Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6
- Carmen: Overture
- Big M’s selections: Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away and Something in the Water
It was awesome to watch her color choices, speed and design change with changes in the music. She requested a fresh sheet of paper with each change in song selection. My personal favorite was when she told me she had to paint “Fast, fast, fast” during the Carmen Overture.
And best of all, with just the addition of music, she painted 7 or 8 pages for well over an hour.
To learn more about Kandinsky, you might also like Famous Artists for Kids: Elmer Meets Kandinsky. You can find them both on our Exploring Art History with Preschoolers landing page, along with all the posts in the series! You can also find them all, along with other great art activities for kids from around the web on our Art for Kids board on Pinterest. What artist should we take on next?