Art Masterpieces Co-op Class 2: Mothers and Babies

Week two of co-op, and we had another great “Art Masterpieces” class!

We looked at two pieces of art this week, Mary Cassatt’s Mother and Child


and Amedeo Modigliani’s Gypsy Woman with Baby.




The children brought there own (very cute!) baby pictures to look at as well.

We had some great conversations about the paintings. We talked about Mary Cassatt, and how she grew up right here in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and later moved to Paris, France. We talked about her warm and loving relationship with her family, and how that shows in her paintings. We learned that Amedeo Modigliani was encourages by his mother to paint and that he painted stylized paintings of those around him. He had a very short and difficult life in Italy, and this painting was done shortly after the birth of his daughter.

Some other questions we explored:
How are the paintings alike? How are the different?

What sort of colors did each artist choose? Warm or cool? Why?

How do the paintings make you feel?

What does each painting tell you about the relationship between the mother and the child?

What is each mother looking at? How are they each different? How are the children different?

We were also able to talk briefly about the history of the Gypsy/Roma people, how they’ve been mistreated and persecuted and killed, simply for being Gypsies. We discussed the word “gypped” and how it was pejorative and not a very nice word to use.

After looking some more at those cute, cute baby pictures they bought, we all sat down and held teddy bears and other stuffed animals, thinking about how it felt.

Now the fun started! I asked them to think about their picture. Would it be a traditional mother and child painting, like the paintings we looked at today? Or would they paint a father and a child, an animal family, a family of a race or culture different than their own? Would they be sitting, standing, or lying down? The children began to sketch.

Some used paints and others used oil pastels. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish. But here are some of the great pictures we ended up with.

1. Top Right: A mother holding a baby in a rocking chair, sitting by a window (tempera paints). 2. Top Left: A mother bunny and her baby (tempera paints).  3. Center right:
Daddy Sponge Bob and Sponge Bob Junior (oil pastels). 4. Center left: A mother and two children playing outside (oil pastels). 5. Bottom right: A Native American mother and child (tempera paints). 6. Bottom left: A mom with her kid looking up at her (oil pastels). I’m sorry I cut this one off, because it’s hilarious. You can only see the top bit of the kid’s face.

1. Top: A mother holding a baby outside. 2. Bottom left: A mother talking to a daughter. 3. Bottom right: A mother on her bed with her daughter in the room. All of these were done with tempera paints.

One thing that struck me was how several of the children instinctively went with red and blue, archetypal colors used when representing the Madonna and Child. I’ll have to think about that and what, if anything, it might signify.

I’ll definitely need to go back and post what we did during our first week!