Monday, May 31, 2010

Degas "Painting life through a keyhole."

Edgar Degas was born on July 19, 1834 in Paris, France.   Degas originally studied law before taking up art.  He liked to paint indoors and is well known for his many paintings of dancers.  He used charcoal and pastels as often as he used paints.  He liked to paint/sculpt how life was and not posed.  He said he liked to paint life as if he was "painting life through a keyhole".   As the artist grew older he had severe eye problems but still made paintings, sculptures, and drawings, from memory.   His work was shown along with Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne.  He died in Paris, France in 1917,  when he was 83 years old.
One of my favorite consequences of doing a study on Degas was being exposed to all the great art work that he created in addition to his paintings of dancers.   I had no idea how diverse he was and I especially enjoy his sculptures, mainly the horses.
We used several books for the above information and if you are interested in finding more information on Degas or any other famous artists please click here.

I chose this clip because it shows a variety of Degas' work:

We did two projects because I couldn't decide which one I wanted to do more.  I love working with pastels and I had just received an order of burlap. 
Our first project was from The Usborne ART Treasury.  Pastel dancers.  An easy project using black construction paper and pastels.  It gives you tips on how to make the dancers.  We personalized it a bit (because I made a mistake and didn't like the hair on mine) and cut it out.  The girls really liked this so they cut theirs out also. 
D wasn't as into making this project as others but he did like to mimic the dancers:

Our next project was from the book Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga. 
This was a project also done with pastels.  Chalk on Cloth.  It called for a cotton cloth with a rough weave and we used burlap.  You soak the fabric in milk and then draw a picture on quickly before the cloth dries.  You turn the painting upside down on a piece of scrap paper and old newspapers, then you cover the painting with aluminum foil and iron.  This sets the chalk design into the fabric.

I wasn't sure what we were going to do with them but using them as book covers on our travel binders worked out very well.

D made a smiley face for Nick.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Henri Matisse "Drawing with scissors."

Henri Matisse was born in Cateau-Cambresis, France in 1869.  Unlike other artists, he didn't know he wanted to be an artist when he was young.  Matisse was studying to be a lawyer when he became sick with appendicitis and his mother bought him a set of paints to occupy his time while he recovered.  Within a few years he gave up law and became a painter.  Matisse loved to use bold color.  Toward the end of his life, he became too sick to paint so he cut shapes out of paper and arranged them (by himself or through the use of an assistant) in a collage.  He called this "drawing with scissors". 
We used several books for the above information and if you are interested in finding more information on Matisse or any other famous artists please click here.
Our project today came from The Usborne ART Treasury book called  Colorful Collage which puts Matisse's "drawing with scissors" into action.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Picasso "I paint objects as I think them."

We began our artist study with Pablo Picasso.  Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain.  He moved to France around 1900.  He said "I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them" and he loved to shock and surprise people with his work.  Most of all, he wanted to inspire us to dream.  During his Blue Period (1901-1904) which was before he became famous for his Cubism, he painted with shades of blue paint to represent his paintings about loneliness and despair.  After this was the Rose (sometimes known as Pink) Period (1904-1906) where he used warmer colors to represent his moods.   The art project that follows is taken from this time of his life. 
We used several books for the above information and if you are interested in finding more information on Picasso or any other famous artists please click here.

For a few of our studies we also used a series of art activity packs created by Mila Boutan.  There is a very informative book about the artist and his work.  We didn't use the activity that accompanied the pack (this was true for all the packs we got of this series) but we did like the book. 

Our project came from the book Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.  It is called One Color Painting.  The kids each chose a main color and then mixed in other colors to get shades of their main color.   We made 6 shades for each child (Brooke chose green, Taylor chose blue and D chose, you guessed it, yellow) and then they began painting.
Here is the final product:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Artist Study

This spring, in addition to learning art techniques, we began a study on famous artists.  We aren't studying our artists in chronological order since I am also working on a timeline for our classroom and this seems like a great opportunity to learn about timelines.  We also never know where our travels will take us and we want to be able to take advantage of the ability to view works, or a museum, of a particular artist when the opportunity presents itself.  So, I hope you will join us every week or so to see who we have been studying. 
We begin by collecting some facts about the artist and recording them in our art portfolios.  We are using some wonderful drawing books that are 12.5" x 15" and the perfect size to display art activities and the information.  You can order them here:
We then read books about the artist, or artists.  Most are non fiction, but some are fictional stories that give children a glimpse into the artist (or artists) lives from a perspective that they can understand.
My hope is that we will be able to view in person, one of the artist's work, their museum or birthplace over the next few years.  We are fortunate enough right now to live right in the middle of Europe and to date, we've already been able to make that happen.
The following books have been a wonderful source of information and I highly recommend using them if you try a study like this yourself. 
One book that will provide you with valuable information and assist you in helping your children (and maybe you) understand an artist or painting/sculpture is How to Talk to Your Children About Art by Francoise Barbe-Gall. This book is divided into 3 sections: 1. A good start this section helps your child develop an interest in art and offers helpful tips depending on their age 2. It's OK not to know provides information that you may not know and the answers to give your children and 3. How to look at a picture several famous paintings along with tips on how to look at, and discuss, these paintings and their artists with your children. These artists are listed chronologically.
One book  that I have used quite a bit, that covers a wide range of artists from the Renaissance to Modern Art, is Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.  This is a wonderful resource that is in chronological order that lists birthdays, art styles, art technique and an art activity for each artist.
Another great chronological book is Cave Paintings to Picasso by Henry Sayre. There is a lot of excellent information on each 50 art masterpieces and a timeline on each page.
A book by Bob Raczka is Name That Style all about ISMS in art.  It provides you with a basic understanding of different art styles, some famous artists, characteristics, and an example of those styles.
Another great resource to introduce paintings is by Usborne The Children's Book of Art.  Each page has  a famous painting with information about the artist and the work of art.  There is an internet link as well but we have not used it.  DK publishing has a similar book that I have ordered, but have not yet received called the Children's Book of Art.
Usborne has another book ART Treasury that not only provides information on a famous work of art and the artist, but also includes an idea for a project.
Another great resource is Art in Story: Teaching Art History to Elementary School Children by Marianne Saccardi.  This is a new resource to us but I wanted to mention it because of the amount of information in it.  The book is divided into eight parts ranging from Art of the Ancient World to Art of the Twentieth Century. In each section, there are several lesson plans that include background information on the artist, a story, how to view the art, journal writing and an activity. I can't wait to use it!
A wonderful resource for really young people is the Mini-Masters Series.  These are board books that can be purchased separately or in a boxed set.  I bought these for my girls when they were just born but they have been a wonderful resource to use as it showcases about 10 of each artist's work.  Little people love to look at the pictures and the books are welcoming and not overwhelming for them.
Another great way to introduce works of art to very young people are three books from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. One is 1, 2, 3, another is A,B,C and the last is Shapes. There are photos of paintings from the museum that reinforce counting, letters and shapes. The alphabet is also available in it's own version of a board book.
There are two great books by Judith Cressy and The Metropolitan Museum of Art called Can You Find It? and Can You Find It, Too?  There are many wonderful paintings where you search for details.  The first book features works of art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY and the second version presents books from 3 additional museums in the US and seven European collections.  The items are listed as is the artist and date of the work.  In the back of the book is an answer key and more information on the artist.
Other series that you may find helpful while studying these famous artists are:
Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Artists, Art Explorers, Artists in Their Time,  and the For Kids Series.  You can find these at your local library or buy them used on-line.
We hope that you have as much fun studying famous artists and art history as we are having.  I will offer more book suggestions for specific artists as we study them.  In the future, we will be doing the same type of study with music history and famous playwrights.  We look forward to having you join us!

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