Questioning Caulfield

Questioning Caulfield

By Hallie Cirino, CHT Preschool

We wanted to have the children study some still life paintings, so Sylvia and I scoured the Yale Center for British Art website to find an artist whose style we had not yet considered. We were delighted to discover Patrick Caulfield, whose rich, graphic paintings bespoke pop art. As is now our routine, we had the children “write” their observations regarding the few paintings we had selected. You could have heard a pin drop during this process. They verbally shared their ideas:

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We began to teach various biographical pieces of information regarding Caulfield, including how his style had changed over the years: Caulfield began to take away any elements that he felt were unnecessary…“I was aiming at reducing the means by which one described things.” We had the children “reduce” what they had said about Caulfield’s work, by crossing out what they felt were the “least important” words, resulting in yet another class poem.

Yellow window

Wine glasses

Water bottles

Maple tree

Monkeys eating bananas

Green pears

Cheesy sandwich

Little painted glass squares

Squares like a quilt

Over the next days, we discussed what a still life was, and the children were invited to select some items from our dramatic play area to sketch their own. A pot and some fruit arrived, and here are some of their illustrations, which they entitled:

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We loved seeing the whimsy in their individual interpretations!

Finally, we thought it would be thought provoking to have the children imagine that if Caulfield could visit, what would we like to ask? The children had never written questions before, and we were delighted to see the variety and content that resulted.  There were some big questions such as:

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It was interesting to note that several questions were about this painting, “Garden with Pines”:

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On the whole, we very much enjoyed this exploration with the children.