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
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.
When I practiced this lesson with my own kids, it made me laugh because they begged for me to to turn the image right-side up for them to draw it. Something about an upside-down drawing drives kids nuts. Its hard to shut off the part of the brain that wants to see an image and to just let the lines be lines. I tried to explain to my kids the whole point of the exercise. As we draw, we need to simplify everything to OiLS (remember week 1?) and not even think about the subject matter. Upside-down drawings train us to do just that. Unfortunately, my kids didn’t care about the reasoning, and we even had to deal with some tears before the drawing was finished. Art is hard, people.
I chose the Statue of Liberty because of the loose, imperfect drape of her robes. I tried to create a drawing that appears almost abstract, only becoming recognizable towards the top when adding the head and arm. Hopefully this encourages students to focus on the lines and not the subject matter. Even if they do recognize it as they draw, the point of the exercise remains the same- study what you see. Don’t draw the Statue of Liberty from inside your head, draw the upside-down one you see in front of you.
My dad is a huge early American history enthusiast, so I am extra excited to study this year’s curriculum. The next five lessons include symbols and landmarks of the United States, and we’ll start off with the Liberty Bell. Originally named the State House bell, this iconic piece hung in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now called Independence Hall. Inscribed on the bell are the words “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” Wonderfully, these words are from Leviticus 25:10, and have been a symbolic statement of freedom for our nation throughout our history.
We will be using the Liberty Bell to practice a mirror-image drawing. Below you will find lesson plans and video tutorials for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-11. These age groupings are general, so please use the lesson best suited for your students. Continue reading