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How to Support and Stimulate Your Teenager with Their Art Studies - Part 1

During this year, students have had to change their way of studying, and working from home has been a huge adjustment. You may feel that your child needs a bit of extra support with their studies, and it can be quite daunting to know where to begin with art (especially if you don’t count yourself as particularly “arty”). In this blog series we will look at a variety of ways to inspire and encourage young artists with their work. We will help outline some of the things we’ve found most beneficial to our own studies as artists, and how you as parents can support your child in theirs.

In regards to practicing technical skills, this will be mostly down to the individual student. If your child is a budding artist then they will practice and grow in their own time, as I’m sure you’ve noticed already! This might be in school, in an art class, using online tutorials such as our Online Classes, or at home.

Apart from encouragement, giving them the space to work, and potentially providing materials, there isn’t much more you can do to help with that aspect of the course. It’s the other side of art education that isn’t so widely known; the contextualisation of it. And this is one part you definitely can assist with! Whether it's for GCSE, A-Level or at any stage of education, a contextual knowledge of art and art history is always important. It can help improve a frame of reference when viewing works, as well as giving students lots of inspiration for their own practise.

One of the main, and most enjoyable, ways that you can do this is by visiting exhibitions. Being inspired by artists old and new, can be an amazing experience, and open students up to a whole new world of styles, mediums and techniques, that they might not be learning about in school. It’s an incredible thing to be able to view a piece of work you have seen reproductions of many times, with your own eyes. Seeing all the layers of paint, the true tone of colours, the genuine size of the piece and how it looks alongside other works can be truly magical.

Image from Secret London.

Look out for large exhibitions of classic artists; ones that feature a wide variety of works, as well as perhaps smaller ones of less well-known artists. There is no wrong or right way to ‘do’ an art gallery. You can gaze at pieces that you like the look of, even if it's just the colour that draws you in! Sometimes it can be intimidating to go to an exhibition if you're not used to them, but the more you go, the easier it will feel for both you and your child.

A fantastic exhibition to visit if you get the chance is the Frieze Art Fair. It comprises a huge number of contemporary art galleries from around the world, exhibiting an extraordinary variety of work in one show. It does however come with a hefty price tag, so if you’re unable to attend you can check out their website (linked above) to view the galleries online. One of the wonderful things about the world we live in, are the many virtual tours, gallery websites, artists’ webpages and so many interesting articles that can be accessed from the comfort of your own home!

Two unsung heroes of artistic study include the library and the archive. These inspiring and quite often beautiful places are open to you and your child, and we can’t recommend them enough! You will no doubt have a free public library near you, and a conversation with a knowledgeable librarian can help you find some fantastic reference books to take home and work from. Libraries in universities are also often open for public use for a yearly (or sometimes termly fee) and the huge amount of information available is well worth it. You can find books on fashion, illustration, book-making, photography, film making, design, architecture… the list is endless! As well as artists’ books, publications, zines and an online library full of articles and essays.

A panoramic shot of the Reading Room, 2006. - British Museum Blog

As for archives, these are the hidden gems of London. The British Museum has the most beautiful, where you can see prints from Rembrandt, Picasso, Durer, Michelangelo and so many more. This treasure trove of resources consists of about 50,000 drawings and more than two million prints. All you have to do is book a time slot, and you can visit for free! There are also archives in the RA, V&A, Maritime Museum, and of course outside of London too: including the National Galleries of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

For more top tips on what to do once you get to the art gallery or museum, keep your eyes out for ‘Our Top Tips & Hints for Activities when Visiting Galleries with Your Teenagers’ post which is coming soon!

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