Studying the Great Artist Emily Carr…Introducing Charcoal as an Art Medium for Young Children.

title“You will have to experiment and try things out for yourself and you will not be sure of what you are doing. That’s all right, you are feeling your way into the thing.”  ~Emily Carr

“Once there was a little girl named Emily. She was born in December in a city called Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. She had 5 siblings. And she loved to make pictures. She was an artist. Her parents encouraged her to draw and she grew to be very accomplished at her craft…”

This is how I began the story I told to the smalls last week, as we started our project for this month’s Kids Get Arty series with Red Ted Art.  I was telling them about 2 different Emily’s. One Emily is my daughter. The other Emily, Emily Carr, was born many, many years before. But their beginnings are remarkably similar. The smalls have all seen my Emily’s artwork, but they had not seen, nor heard of Emily Carr. And once again, it was my big sister and her Big E that led us down the path to this month’s study. Love those two…hope they don’t start charging me! xo

And so the rest of the story continues…canadianartistEmily Carr used many different mediums in her art over her lifetime, including charcoal. You will find many of her sketches were done with this medium. I showed the smalls some of her works, including the forest landscapes and the totem poles of the Canadian aboriginals. They were most impressed by the forests and very curious about the totem poles.

My Emily brought the smalls some of her charcoal pencils and sticks to try. I supplied cotton swabs and tissue for smudging and blending.suppliesMy Emily showed them one of her own pieces she had sketched with charcoal…englishsaddleAnd I showed them a few basics on how to use the pencils and sticks. My demo is not nearly as breathtaking as my Emily’s!charcoalsmudgingThe smalls chose their tools and got to work. While they worked, I told them more little bits about Emily Carr’s story…6childrenThis fact thrilled my Coco beyond words, as she is also the second youngest of 6.modernCanadacomplicationofcolourabstractbriefperiodlatebloomerOut of the three girls who participated in this activity, it was the 2 year old that enjoyed it the most! Her chubby little hands were black when she finished her work. Her favourite part was the smudging!

When the smalls had finished with the charcoal, I let them add some colour to their sketches with pencil crayons. Emily Carr mostly used watercolours or oil, but we were fresh out of both of those!colour1The girls coloured and sketched for a good hour on their “canvases”…colour2And to give you an idea of how versatile charcoal is for ALL ages, I have included a photograph of each girl’s masterpiece…

Miss E, age 2…age2Miss G, age 4…age4Miss Coco, age 7…age7We sure enjoyed learning about Miss Emily Carr. I used to walk past the her house on Government Street in Victoria often, having lived in that city for 12 years,  but I am sad to say, I never went in. It is now a National and Provincial historic site and it’s dedicated to her art and her writings.

This study in charcoal was one of the simplest activities we have done for the Kids Get Arty series, but not any less meaningful. The smalls have been asking me everyday since, if they can please use Emily’s pencil sticks again.

I think I might have to stock the art centre with some of our own.sketchesquote

Thanks for stopping by!

~Arlee, Small Potatoes


13 thoughts on “Studying the Great Artist Emily Carr…Introducing Charcoal as an Art Medium for Young Children.

  1. I love Miss CoCo and her rabbits. 😉 This is so great! I love the concept of sharing different artists, the techniques they used, and letting even little bitty smalls use it create their own masterpiece!

  2. The story of the two EMILY’S is incredible and I have always been a fan of your pictures and your kids..I enjoyed the post totally as usual..but this time it is special since I am even named Emily…:)

  3. Pingback: “Untitled” charcoal drawing realistic by Cheri Homaee « Le Art Studio

  4. Pingback: Art Projects for Toddlers - Great Artists

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