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 →
The Foundations Guide suggests using Greek vases to practice mirror-image drawing, and whad’ya know! That works perfectly for Cycle 1 and ancient civilizations.
We know that the Greeks used symmetry in architecture, and we can see this same love of order and balance in their art. Most of their pottery was symmetrical in shape and was decorated with geometric designs, floral motifs, and scenes from life or mythology. If possible, bring in several books on Greek art or civilization for students to look through as they complete their drawings.
This lesson focuses on mirror-image drawing using the vase outline, but also incorporates OiLS through adding geometric designs. Each lesson plan includes a few examples of traditional Greek patterns, but the options are endless! Continue Reading →
The new Foundations Guide came out this year, but you’ll notice that drawing for weeks 1-6 are the same as in the past. Since Cycle 1 looks at the history of ancient kingdoms, I will be combining the drawing concepts alongside art from ancient civilizations.
Week 1 starts out with the basic elements of drawing using the OiLS concept. We will use Egyptian symbols to practice studying what we see and copying that on our own paper. Remember, these are drawing lessons: the point is to learn to draw well, not necessarily express creativity. Once drawing skills are developed, students can more easily express their own thoughts because they have the skills to do so! It is okay to ask students to slow down, follow directions exactly, and even re-work their drawing to improve it. This will be so effective in the long run, and the students will see that the results are worth it.
Below you will find lesson plans with videos for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-11. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Happy drawing!
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 →