Our last great artist for the year is Domenikos Theotokopoulos. Try saying that five times fast! It’s no wonder people just called him “The Greek”. Or maybe it’s because he lived and worked in Spain, but was born in Greece. Hmm.
El Greco (“The Greek”) is known for his elongated, slender figures. He was more focused on the emotional and imaginative aspect of his paintings than on capturing reality, and I think the beginnings of abstraction can be seen there. Students will create a portrait similar to his style by elongating a basic figure, then adding their own features and color to the work.
For additional images that would work well for masters classes, check out Half a Hundred Acre Wood. At the bottom of the page you’ll find templates for the Mona Lisa and El Greco Son. The same process applies as in the video below, just with more complicated subject matter.
When I think of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I picture him lying on his back atop huge scaffolds, working in this position for years and years. I’m not sure if I was formerly taught this, but come to find out, it’s a widespread misconception! He did work atop tall scaffolds, but stood upright with his head craned back to paint. Not surprisingly, that dude was fed up with the Sistine Chapel ceiling by the time he was done.
The Michelangelo project in Discovering Great Artists, p. 25, still goes off the assumption that Michelangelo laid on his back to paint the ceiling. The directions in my lesson plan mimic this, as it is much easier to tape paper under a table than to erect scaffolding to reach the ceiling, but if you find a solution that allows students to stand and paint above their heads, please share!
Durer created beautiful masterpieces in all sorts of media, from oil paint to watercolor, and etchings to woodblock prints. His prints were beyond compare, especially for the time period, and still wow us today. One of his most famous woodblock prints is Rhinoceros, and so this lesson plan focuses on animal subject matter for creating our own prints. Durer also did wonderful watercolors of animals, full of texture and detail, which we can also use to inspire our students.
Fra Angelico is well-known for his altarpieces and frescoes, his most notable being The Annunciation painted in the Convent of San Marco in Florence, Italy. He painted several paintings on this same theme throughout his life, but this is by far his most well-known work. To help students get a firm grasp on his subject matter, we will be replicating another of his images of the Annunciation, but one that is much simpler. The Annunciatory Angel also depicts Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of the Christ and shows the golden halo typical of the time. Continue Reading →
Ghiberti’s masterpiece, dubbed the “Gates of Paradise”, are beautiful relief panels adorning the doors of the Baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence. It took over twenty years for Ghiberti to complete this project! He first carved wax molds, then cast them in bronze, and then polished, sanded, and incised details. Finally, he covered them with a layer of gold. Twenty years on the same project takes a lot of dedication!
Our twenty-first century replica is to use wax wikki stix, dull pencils, and aluminum foil to create the same thing in half an hour. Well, maybe not the same thing, but you get the idea. Continue Reading →
Get a box handy, ’cause you’re going to be packing in a lot of stuff for this project. It’s a super fun activity and totally worth the extra prep time and supplies!
Giotto di Bondone was an Italian painter and architect during the late Middle Ages. He created beautiful frescoes and also did tempera paintings on wood panels, which is what our students will be mimicking. Tempera paint allows for vivid color (medieval artists even used toxic substances like arsenic and mercury to get these colors. Yikes.) that has retained its vibrancy for hundreds of years. While chalk isn’t quite the same as what Giotto used, it’s a fun substitute to learn about pre-Renaissance painting techniques.
To get started, here’s the supply list. Some have links to the items on amazon.
Cardstock (can print the images from page 2 of lesson plan, if desired)
To complete the first six weeks of Cycle 1 we’ll be drawing Chinese kites. The lesson plan touches on mirror-image drawing, one-point perspective, and abstract design. That’s a lot, but I hope the kids feel confident in their knowledge and enjoy drawing their final piece.
Many historians believe that China is the birthplace of the kite, and the first recorded use of a kite was in China in 196 BC. Kites have had many purposes: they were used to carry messages, to celebrate special occasions, and even as a tool in war! Marco Polo is credited with bringing the first news of kites back to Europe after his travels through Asia in the thirteenth century. There is such an interesting and unique history to explore! Continue Reading →
This week students will practice the concept of one-point perspective drawing. This is hard to fit into our unit on ancient art because early civilizations tended to create flattened images with little to no depth. In fact, the use of perspective in painting wasn’t seen until the 15th century in Italy. But, of course, ideas travel…
The first use of mathematical perspective in Japanese art can easily be seen in woodblock prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige in the 1800s. They use very strong, clean lines that create dynamic depth and perspective. You can use the following images to show your students an early Japanese painting with some depth but no one-point perspective, and the later prints that do have one-point perspective. (I often put images in a Powerpoint presentation and use my laptop to present images in class rather than printing them all out)
Though the arts and ethnic groups of Africa are vast, one common trait is the making of masks. Even within this commonality, African masks can land on a broad spectrum from representational to completely abstract. In this lesson we will look at abstracted masks from the regions of Ancient Mali and Ghana (week 14 history sentence and geography) as well as other cultures surrounding those areas. Even though we will study and gain inspiration from their designs, students are in no way expected to copy them.
What we do want students to learn from this lesson:
What the term “abstract” means
How to create an emphasis in an abstract deisgn
How to gain inspiration from other work, but change it to make it our own
Just like the ancient Egyptians, the Maya had a written language that was based on symbols and pictures. The images used in their writing are complex and in fact required artists to accomplish them. In this way, scribes always had to be artists, and their word for “scribe” reflected this: t’zib means both artist and scribe! (This makes me think of modern-day calligraphy: the melding of written language and art).
For this week’s upside-down drawing, I used the Mayan symbol for chocolate. This article and fabulous video talk about the Mayan language, and also decode the glyph for “chocolate”. It’s super fun and interesting! Continue Reading →