Discovering Frida Kahlo

It all started when Valentina announced one morning: ” Mommy, you know there are no girl painters. All of the painters are boys like Monet, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock….”  To my dismay, I realized that in an effort to expose my daughter to a wide range of notable art work, I have focused almost entirely on the male painters. It was about time for me fix that bias.  The fault was not all mine, however, as the works by the female artists remain vastly underrepresented in the art world. However, that doesn’t mean our children need to see it that way! As I was thinking about which female artists we should pick first, Frida came to mind almost immediate with her fascinating and inspiring life story and fantastical and bold master pieces. However, I strongly recommend that parents edit the works that they chose to show to their children as some of her paintings are not child appropriate.

  • Start with a Book:  As I’ve written in my earlier posts, when it comes to telling the artists’ stories I recommend starting at the library. So many beautiful children’s books have been published about famous artists with carefully curated content that is both fun and easy for your child to comprehend.  My favorite children’s book about Frida is by Laurence Alholt, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World.  Its part of Anholt’s captivating series about famous artists and the children who knew them.  I have included other books from this series in my list of favorites.  We read this book several times at home and it quickly became one of my daughter’s favorites. We were also inspired by Frida’s unique style and attempted to imitate it with a bright flower headband in our hair : )
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  • Follow Up with a Trip to the Museum: We are lucky to live in close proximity to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The MFA just recently purchases its first work by Frida Kahlo – Dos Mujeres – which as it turns out when it was originally sold by Frida Kahlo, was also her first painting ever to be sold.  After discovering that a museum close to us had in its possession one of Frida’s paintings, it was time for us to visit the exhibition in person. I realize that not every museum has the works of Frida Kahlo on display, so I recommend staying on your local museum’s mailing lists to monitor all the visiting exhibits.  You can also find a lot of her work online. Again, I recommend that parents select the child appropriate paintings. For example, I would highlight her collection of self-portraits (e.g. self-portrait the frame),  portraits (e.g. portrait of mariana morillo safa) and some still life (e.g. still life with parrot and flag).
  • Bring the Inspiration Home: Its a lot of fun to let your child discover their inner Frida, while the memories of the paintings that they saw in the museum/online are still fresh!  We get our paints and brushes together and head to the “painting area” (with an easel and tarp underneath), where I let my daughter’s imagination and brush strokes fly unconstrained by my interpretations and ideas about Frida’s art.  If the weather is warm, we do most of our painting outside (less mess in the house and more inspiration from nature). However, in the winter its simply too cold to do so. If you live in a similar climate, I recommend getting two easels: a simple plastic one for the outdoors (very easy assembly and storage) and a wooden one for the house (more complicated assembly but better shelving for paints, brushes, and chalk, which contains the mess a bit and has a “real artist studio” appearance). My daughter just turned 4 in December and while I tried to suggest that it would be fun to attempt a self portrait a la Frida, we settled on painting a still life in a form of an apple surrounded by rain clouds  : ) When it comes to my daughter’s painting, at this stage I make sure she enjoys the process of mixing colors and putting shapes on paper.  As she grows older, we will start more structured painting classes but my sense is that she is not quite ready for it yet.

2 thoughts on “Discovering Frida Kahlo”

  1. This is a good, simple, straightforward child friendly introduction to a brilliant artist. Love the suggestions on letting child express what they see in work
    according to his/ her abilities.
    Looking forward to post on other female artist.

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