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 →
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!
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 →
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