Cycle 1 Week 14- Ghiberti

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 →

Cycle 1 Week 5- Japanese Pagoda

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)

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Cycle 1 Week 4- African Masks

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

I hope you and your students enjoy the lesson!

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Cycle 1 Week 3- Mayan Glyphs

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 →

Cycle 3 Week 18- Jim Davis

Sorry for getting this lesson out so late!

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.

Here is the lesson plan for Cycle 3 Week 18- Jim Davis

I hope you all have a wonderful semester, and I’ll be back with more lessons starting in August!

Cycle 3 Week 17- Roy Lichtenstein

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 →

Cycle Week 16- Andrew Wyeth

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 →

Cycle 3 Week 14- Norman Rockwell

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 →

Cycle 3 Week 5- Washington Monument Perspective Drawing

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 →

Cycle 3 Week 1- Apples and OiLS

Image of Illustrated Apple

This art project will probably be quite a bit different from what you are used to in CC.  As tutors, we usually draw a picture on the board and have the students copy as we draw.  The students are (hopefully) looking at the lines and drawing them on their own paper.  This is essentially the same skill as drawing a still life, where we look at something, analyze the lines and shapes, and reproduce it.  However, I think students may be missing the real-world translation.  How do we draw something without copying someone else’s drawing?  How do we take the OiLS concept from “Drawing With Children” and connect it to drawing an object (or person, or landscape)?

This lesson is a series of sketches, not a finished artwork.  The project may feel unusual, but it imparts a seriously important drawing skill.  Try practicing at home and notice if it changes the way you think as you draw.

In last week’s post I talked about using the phrase “Let’s study what we see”.  As you teach lesson one, use the phrase all the time.  This lesson is a great starting point as we drive home the idea over the next six weeks. Continue Reading →

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