This project is about creating texture through paint. The Impressionists used a technique called “impasto”, using thick paint on the canvas in such a way that the texture was very apparent and purposeful.
When I first did this lesson several years ago, I followed the lesson idea from the book Discovering Great Artists closely. You can still find that video in this post, but I’ve also included a new video that suggests a different method. I find using this new lesson (using just joint compound to thicken paint) better teaches the Impressionist’s technique and is a more realistic experience for students to discover Morisot’s style.
Below you will find lesson plans as well as downloadable line drawings of some of her paintings. The students will use the textured paint to fill in these images. Because the paint is so thick, it is best to do this project in the beginning of the day so it has lots of time to dry.
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I’m super excited that Van Gogh is part of our great artists line up this year. Talk about a famous artist. His work also provides a link in the chain of how we got from realistic artwork to abstraction in the early 1900s, which is a great topic of conversation.
This project walks students through replicating Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night. I love that we learned about astronomy this year, and can connect our knowledge about stars and phases of the moon to this painting. Students can even arrange the stars in the painting into their favorite constellation!
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As a girl I loved looking at Degas’ work. I was enamored by the beautiful ballerinas in voluminous tutus practicing their movements . It seemed effortlessly feminine. Though most of his work focuses on the female form, he also did paintings of men and children in everyday life. The overarching theme in his work is the human figure, and he was able to expertly capture the movement of the body.
Because I want to teach my students about Degas’ mastery of the human figure, I am straying completely from the Discovering Great Artists lessons. Instead, this lesson will teach VERY basic figure drawing ideas. Don’t worry, it’s simple! Continue Reading →
This week we continue to study Impressionism. When we think of Impressionism we think of Claude Monet. And when we think of Claude Monet we think of water lilies, landscapes, and dabbled paint. This is exactly what we want our students to think of as well. Hopefully by the time this project is done, they will have a permanent impression of Monet’s work and will be able to recall the imagery and technique of his style.
Not only will they see his style, but they will know what it feels like to paint as he did… with one exception. Monet usually painted outdoors. Though the Discovering Great Artists lesson has students painting what they see outside, this is hard to do during winter. Here it is cold and snowy, with very little color outside. To compensate for this, my lesson has students experiment by copying parts of Monet’s work, then replicate a painting. Continue Reading →
Though Thomas Gainsborough’s landscapes might appear simply realistic to us, they have a dream-like, dramatic quality to them. It is said that he even created them at home using pebbles, twigs, and even broccoli to create mini dioramas. The images were very much from inside his own head.
For this project, the students will create their own imaginary scene. Just like Gainsborough’s, it will be realistic yet wondrous. Waterfalls? Rainbows? Babbling brooks with ferns and foliage? Erupting volcanoes? The students get to be as creative and unrestrained as they choose. Continue Reading →
I love this project. It combines drawing with science and math. It teaches students to carefully study what they see. It allows us to emphasize size and proportion in drawing. Kids will always love to doodle and draw imaginative ideas, and teaching traditional drawing techniques in no way inhibits this. In fact, teaching realistic drawing will give them the skills to better draw what’s in their head.
This botanical drawing is based off the work of Carl Linnaeus, famous artist, botanist, physician, and zoologist. He carefully studied plants and recorded his findings through illustrations. They are beautiful examples of science and art. Continue Reading →
Oh, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Portrait drawing can be the most nerve-wracking art assignment. The features always look a bit wonky, it never looks like the person you are trying to draw, and it can be embarrassing to have to show it off to other kids in class. Though portrait drawing is a challenge, following a simple mathematical formula can greatly improve the outcome.
In this lesson, students will learn the basic structure of all human faces. Using this guideline, they will draw the portrait of a parent in class. The focus is learning the structure, not creating a perfect likeness of the subject.
The famous artist tied in with this lesson is Rembrandt van Rijn. A famous Dutch painter of the 1600s, he painted landscapes, biblical scenes, portraits and self-portraits. To begin the lesson, give an introduction to Rembrandt and his work, then dive into drawing your own portrait. Continue Reading →