My family and I took a road trip a few years back, following part of the route that Lewis and Clark took to the Pacific Ocean. We listened to the book Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark, visited the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, and relaxed in the beauty of the Oregon coast. I didn’t know much about their journey before this, but was quickly amazed by what they and their companions encountered and experienced.
One thing that stuck with me was the breadth of skill and knowledge that Lewis and Clark needed to lead such a unique mission. They had to know about medicine, botany, astronomy, zoology, geography… and drawing! In journals they described and sketched many animals they saw during the trip. Some animals written about were squirrels (their dog Seaman caught them, and they fried them up for food), pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs (other names they came up with were “ground rat” and “burrowing squirrel”), and the jackrabbit to name a few.
The lessons below focus on drawing North American animals that the explorers would have come across in their travels. Just like Lewis and Clark, our students will practice honing their observation and drawing skills among the many other subject matter they know.
I think categorizing Jim Davis as a “Great Artist” is a stretch. Famous cartoonist? Yes. Up there with O’Keeffe and Pollock? Not so much. Luckily, the next edition of the Foundations Guide does not include him in the curriculum, so you don’t have to listen to me rant and rave about the subject.
This lesson is super simple. Focusing on OiLS (the drawing concepts from week one), have students design a cartoon character. I suggest having them pick an animal as their character. Use the following lesson plan and handouts as a guide. Students can copy the facial features, or create their own. Once designed, put the character into comic strip form. If time, kids can color their comic strip, or present their work to the group.
This will probably be one of your students’ favorite projects this year! Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings, inspired by comic strips, are colorful and bold and kids can immediately connect with his style.
Lichtenstein’s paintings were large-scale, exaggerating the Ben-Day dot technique used to print colors at the time. We’ll use Q-tips and tempera paint to mimic the look, and also look at color schemes that work well with our pop art project. Continue Reading →
Andrew Wyeth has been one of my favorite artists for a long while now. For some reason I’m drawn to his melancholy, quiet pieces. Is that weird? Maybe a sign of deeper psychological issues? I don’t know, but I do like his stuff.
Like Wyeth, we’ll be painting with watercolors. This medium is a challenge, but we’re going to keep it simple. A little color mixing and a few painting techniques, and voila! a melancholy, dreary landscape. What’s not to love? Continue Reading →
For the next three weeks, the art lessons will focus on painting technique and color.
This week, we will copy a painting by the famous American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The focus will be on mixing colors smoothly on the canvas, and creating light and dark areas for dimension and contrast.
O’Keeffe completed around two hundred paintings of flowers, which are iconic of her style. Depending on the closeness of her viewpoint, some feel completely abstracted while others are representational. The painting in this lesson is clearly of purple flowers, but still shows O’Keeffe’s simplicity of form and focus on color and light. Continue Reading →
For me, Norman Rockwell’s illustrations do more than tell a story. They often convey something deep about life and human fragility. Yes, many of his drawings are humorous, but even then they contain so much more. They capture the emotions of the subject, the complexity of a seemingly everyday scene. We connect with the inner thoughts of the people pictured. Norman Rockwell was extremely gifted with understanding and empathizing with people in all stages of life.
The learning targets for this week are (1) defining the word “illustration” and (2) conveying emotion through our work. Continue Reading →
Starting out the “Great Artists” this year we have Grandma Moses. Her work is considered folk art, meaning her art pieces reflect her community, culture, and the everyday things around her. She was not a formally trained artist, and amazingly did not even begin painting until her late seventies. In her paintings we see the quirky nature of her self-taught art: the flattened buildings, the funky use of perspective, and the robustly busy scenes. They are charming and endearing, and your students will love to create their own scene as well.
Though the lesson is primarily about Grandma Moses and folk art, this plan will also focus on learning the terms “foreground”, “middleground”, and “background”. It’s always nice to throw in some extra art terms and use these projects to practice specific techniques. Continue Reading →
For the final drawing I usually don’t try and include all the concepts from the previous five weeks, but this year I gave it a go. In order to pound those pegs in a little deeper, this project will touch on mirror-image drawing, perspective, shading, and, just by its nature of being a drawing, OiLs. (It also includes an American flag as in week four’s abstract art. Kind of a stretch, I know.)
Hopefully the kids are excited when they discover how much about drawing they already know. If your students get the concepts, you can give them verbal directions only or write the steps on the board and let them work at their own pace. They’ll love the autonomy of figuring it out on their own! Continue Reading →
This was my first week back to CC and, boy, am I feeling it. Maybe also because my husband has been gone for a week, I’m planning my daughter’s fifth birthday party, and I have four loads of laundry staring at me. Whatever the reason, I’m a little tired and I’m going to blame that for the badly-proportioned Washington Monuments in my video lessons. So, please adjust your drawings in class accordingly. Or if yours ends up being off too, just blame me.
We will practice shading in this lesson just like the Liberty Bell project from week two. Repetition of the concept can help it stick in our student’s brains, and help them see how it can be used in multiple ways. This week it will be used on the geometric forms of the Washington Monument, and next week we’ll find ways to use it in our final drawing. Continue Reading →
Since we are studying American artists later this year during the “Great Artists”, I wanted to incorporate some famous American abstract artists into this lesson as well. I’ve included examples of paintings by Calder, Rothko, and Johns.
Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) created a painting called “Flag”, which, simply, is of the American flag. This is a great example of how confusing abstract art can be. As one of his critics said “Is this a flag or a painting?”. Exactly.
Even though abstract art can be hard to understand, we can still have great conversations about the elements used and how they make us feel. Talking about the lines, shapes, and colors helps us appreciate the beauty and depth of the artwork. To begin this lesson, show images of abstract art (I have included a PowerPoint of images I thought helpful) and have a discussion about them. Include “Flag” by Jasper Johns as a segue to our final drawing.
We will be using elements from the American flag as we design our abstract work. And in addition to using the elements, we want to use the principles of design. This project will focus on repetition and balance in particular.