Creative arts—expressing ourselves with portrait experiences at SDN Surry Hills

The creative arts are a language for self-expression, helping children to make sense of the world and their place in it.

For most of the year, the preschoolers at SDN Surry Hills have been studying the different techniques of artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt. The artists were chosen because of the different ways they viewed themselves and expressed those views through art.

Portraiture was introduced to the children early in the year as a way for them to introduce themselves to one another and settle into their new classroom. One of the first experiences had children sit in pairs with a mirror, noticing and describing their own and their partners’ features. This helped children get to know one another, and to consider what made themselves unique.

One by one, children were introduced to the artists and examples of their work. They noticed facial features, and wondered together how (or why) the artist created a person that way.  

While studying Van Gogh, children looked at how his works were made up of different marks and lines. Senior Educator’s Rachel and David read the book Tiz and Ott’s Big Draw, by Bridget Marzo, looking at how the characters played with lines and colours too. They saw that zig zigs could become lightning, waggles could be clouds. Children experimented with lines and colour as they made their own self-portraits, and described their process with words like splodge, scrunch, wavy and scribble.

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is a detailed, golden portrait. The children’s own portraits incorporated metallic paper and gold foil – when tiny pieces became stuck on fingers, children marvelled at their transformation into pieces of art themselves.  

Soft Self-Portrait with Bacon (Salvador Dali) and Self Portrait Dedicated to Dr Eloesser (Frida Kahlo) gave children insight into surrealism, and they participated in transient art experiences, using loose parts to create faces that weren’t permanent.

For preschool Early Childhood Teacher Liz and her colleagues, the creative arts are highly valued in the classroom.  “As a teacher, I love these experiences. When a child says to me, ‘I can’t draw a face’, I get to coach them, help them to see and make a face with shapes and lines.”

Methods like painting and drawing help children to understand the world and are a good way of making that process of understanding visible. Liz says, “when you look at something, you get some understanding, but you understand something better by recreating it. By using all your senses to explore an idea.” 

The creativity continues!

To learn more about our preschool program and curriculum pillars, visit this page here.

Talk to us

Enter your details below to chat