Smiling like Sunshine: Exploring Realism vs Abstraction

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Exploring Realism vs Abstraction

As you know we like to explore art here so last month when we were reading The Art Book for Children (Phaidon) with Defne (5 yo) , we came across Gerhard Richter's paintings. He is an important artist as he produced both realistic and abstract paintings thus undermining the belief that an artist should maintain a single style.

Gerhard Richter,Betty,1988

This painting is almost like a photo and it blows my mind. When I pointed out to Defne that this is not a photo, but a painting she was also impressed.
On the opposite page, there is an abstract painting of Gerhard Richter:

Gerhard Richter,Abstract Painting, 1993

Then we talked about realism and abstraction. I tried to explain her that when artists take their inspiration from daily life and draw about "real things" it is called realism. When they choose not to show people, animals or other things as they appear in the real world, it is called "abstraction." I told her that abstract pictures are not painted to look like something specific.

Defne wanted to paint this painting herself. To make these, "exploring art" projects a little special, I try to give her some special materials.

So I gave her a small canvas and acrylic paints and she got on painting. Every now and then she kept saying she wanted to add "her own things". At first I tried to keep her on track trying to persuade her to try to paint like Richter but then I decided I should let her however she wants to paint. As we all know, it is the process that matters.
When she was finished,she said she wanted to add some white lines. I suppose she was inspired by the British flag :) Because of the Jubilee and then the Olympics, there have been lots of flags around :)

She enjoyed painting with acrylic paintings and mixing the colours. Also, painting on canvas was new for her.

I am linking up to Red Ted Art's Kids Get Arty where you can find more artful inspiration.


  1. Great! It looks like she had so much fun on this project, and I love that she added in the white stripes based on what she has been seeing lately. We love the ARt Book for Children here, too.

  2. i really like that she added her own touch rather than copying the painting directly. It looks like an intentionally abstract union jack. Very cool

  3. I love her own take on the flag. I always feel like I should be doing more to introduce my children to the arts. Looks like you are doing a fantastic job.

  4. What a work of art:-) Love it-FSPDT

  5. I can't believe that the one painting isn't a photo that is incredible! I love your daughter's painting.

  6. Ohhh what a great study - I can't believe that the top isn't a photograph the detail is amazing as is the colours used.

  7. I am impressed by the quality of that painting! Wow! And I love your abstract art. It came out wonderfully!

    Thank you so much for linking up to Kids Get Arty. Great post!


  8. Great art work - looks like you had lots of fun!

  9. Wow! I totally thought that first image was a photograph! I love abstract art myself !

  10. I imagine you had great discussions!

  11. That book sounds great, I might check it out. I'm looking for ways to introduce R to the great artists. That painting really does look like a photo and your daughter's painting is wonderful!

  12. Welcome to a new Linky Party for Kid-Focused Bloggers. Monday Kid Corner is a place to share your kid-friendly activities and crafts. Please join us at See you there!


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