Tuesday, October 31, 2017

November Masterpiece of the Month: The Dove by Romare Bearden

Who Made It?
An American artist named, Romare Bearden, created this collage in 1964.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real collage can be seen at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
Bearden’s special collage technique was groundbreaking because he used cut-up photographs, newspaper clippings and magazines in a manner that seemed to piece together an illustration from a story. He felt that the medium of collage allowed him the freedom to improvise: to create as ideas came into his mind.
In The Dove, Bearden creates a scene which captures the feeling of a vibrant, ever-changing city neighborhood. In fact, Bearden grew up in Harlem, NY and was one of the first artists to depict scenes of African-American life and culture in his artwork. Starting with the cat in the lower left-hand corner, our eyes travel busily from one part of the picture to another, as if we were walking through a busy city street with the activity of daily life passing all around us, always noticing something different. Bearded organized this picture so that our eyes jump from light areas to dark areas, from pattern to pattern. The Dove, a symbol of hope and peace, is perched above everything, as if keeping a close eye on the cats, in case they cause any trouble. This may be an important symbol for Bearden because he created this picture while he was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Grade One: Geometric and Organic Shape Collage

Students in the first grade begin the year by building upon the basics of art they learned about in kindergarten, focusing primarily on the elements of design. In order to understand the element of shape, students were informed that our world is composed of two different types of shapes: geometric and organic (also known by young students as "free form" shapes). We then examined The Flight of Icarus by Henri Matisse by looking for examples of these two kinds of shapes, how the piece was created and how Matisse used the shapes to tell the story of Icarus.

Students were then instructed to cut examples of both geometric and organic shapes from colored paper to use in a collage, and to consider various ways to arrange these shapes to make their collage visually interesting.

Kindergarten: How Artists Use Shapes

This project marks the first of activities which will span longer than one week to complete, throughout the year. It is important for students at this age to strengthen their fine motor skills. Learning to control and manipulate scissors and drawing utensils is challenging and takes time and practice. What better time in the year to introduce kindergarteners to the element of shape?

Week One: Students were first shown flash cards of some easy (and some not-so-easy) to recognize geometric shapes. Their attention was then brought to Mondrian’s painting, Tableau 1, and asked if he used any of those shapes in his painting. Students were then given an envelope to store up to five geometric shapes they had chosen from a selection pre-cut by the art teacher. Once their shapes were selected, they were allowed to embellish the shapes with markers to make their selections even more special. They were also allowed to decorate their envelopes and then store their shapes for safe-keeping until the following week, when they would use these shapes in a creation of their own.

 Week Two: Students reviewed the geometric shape flash cards. This week, however, they are delighted to find some new surprises: organic, or free form, shapes amid the geometric ones. Students were introduced to both groups of shapes and how they differ from each other. They were then instructed to take their previewly chosen geometric shapes from last week and arrange them into a creative composition. What can be made from your shapes? How can they be turned into something other than a square or triangle?
Once shapes are glued into place, students were instructed to cut and add an organic shape to their composition. Markers were used to help further clarify their idea.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Grade One: Using Line Constructively/Tree Line Drawings

For their first lesson of the year, first graders revisited the element of Line and discussed how lines can be found everywhere in our world and that artists can use different kinds of lines to express their ideas more fully. Students examined and discussed several examples of line drawings by various artists, explaining how each artist used Line. Next, students were shown several paintings of trees done by different artists and explored how each tree was represented differently using various and often unexpected types of lines. Students were led to notice how using a particular type of line changes the way we expect a tree to look.

Finally, students were instructed to create a line drawing of their own choice. That said, everything in the picture had to be constructed from a variety of appropriate lines AND the subject had to include at least one tree. They were encouraged to think about how lines can be used to represent the many parts of a tree and different species of trees. Students were given artworks created by Asian artists which depicted different species of trees during different seasons to help them think about the many ways line can be used.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

October Masterpiece of the Month: Self-Portrait by Albrecht Durer

Who Made It?
A German artist named, Albrecht Durer, created this self-portrait in 1498.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Why Is It Important?
Like many artists, Durer painted himself several times during his lifetime. This is the second of three self-portraits he created. Here, Durer paints himself as a very important person, full of self-confidence and completely aware of his talent. He fills almost the entire space and size of the painting with his own image, from his hat to his arms. Durer shows himself in front of an open window with a lake and snow-capped mountains in the distance. This landscape may represent either a memory of his travels or a symbol of his state of mind. He also shows himself dressed in expensive, fashionable and fancy clothes for that time.
Some believe that this self portrait is meant to represent Durer leaving his youthful, carefree days behind and taking on the responsibilities of a mature, significant artist, something Durer began to experience at the time of this painting's creation.