When I think of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I picture him lying on his back atop huge scaffolds, working in this position for years and years. I’m not sure if I was formerly taught this, but come to find out, it’s a widespread misconception! He did work atop tall scaffolds, but stood upright with his head craned back to paint. Not surprisingly, that dude was fed up with the Sistine Chapel ceiling by the time he was done.
The Michelangelo project in Discovering Great Artists, p. 25, still goes off the assumption that Michelangelo laid on his back to paint the ceiling. The directions in my lesson plan mimic this, as it is much easier to tape paper under a table than to erect scaffolding to reach the ceiling, but if you find a solution that allows students to stand and paint above their heads, please share!
Durer created beautiful masterpieces in all sorts of media, from oil paint to watercolor, and etchings to woodblock prints. His prints were beyond compare, especially for the time period, and still wow us today. One of his most famous woodblock prints is Rhinoceros, and so this lesson plan focuses on animal subject matter for creating our own prints. Durer also did wonderful watercolors of animals, full of texture and detail, which we can also use to inspire our students.
Fra Angelico is well-known for his altarpieces and frescoes, his most notable being The Annunciation painted in the Convent of San Marco in Florence, Italy. He painted several paintings on this same theme throughout his life, but this is by far his most well-known work. To help students get a firm grasp on his subject matter, we will be replicating another of his images of the Annunciation, but one that is much simpler. The Annunciatory Angel also depicts Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of the Christ and shows the golden halo typical of the time. 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 →
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
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!
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.
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