Hello, fantastic art parents!
I am so excited for our project this month. I think the students will really enjoy painting their own small canvas. One thing that is great about canvas board is that it fits well into standard frames and can be something special to take home and hang for years to come. Here is our lesson on the incomparable Cézanne:

Paul Cézanne was an influential French painter who lived from 1839–1906. He was a Post-Impressionist, meaning his work transitioned the art world from the Impressionists, such as Degas, Monet, Manet, and Renoir to the cubists, like Picasso, Brach and Gris. (Cubism is considered to be the first of the truly modern art movements.) Cézanne is often said to form the bridge between late 19th-century art and the early 20th century. Both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.”

Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France. His father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne (1798–1886), was a prosperous banker, which gave Cézanne financial security that was unavailable to most of his contemporaries. Initially, his father did not support his choice to pursue art and he left Aix for Paris in 1861 against his father’s wishes. Eventually though, his father reconciled with Cézanne and supported his choice of career.

Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style. Nevertheless, in Cézanne’s mature work there is the development of a solidified, almost architectural style of painting. Throughout his life he struggled to authentically observe and represent his subjects. This lead to highly structured style which simplified naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials: he wanted to “treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone”

The Paris Salon rejected Cézanne’s submissions every year from 1864 to 1869. He continued to submit works until 1882. The Salon was the major art exhibition at the time—essentially we could say he was shunned by the critics for much of his career. However, Cézanne was considered a master by younger artists who visited his studio in Aix.

Cézanne concentrated on a few subjects and was equally proficient in still lifes, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers. He gave up classic artistic elements such as pictorial arrangements, single view perspectives, and outlines that enclosed color in an attempt to get a “lived perspective” by capturing all the complexities that an eye observes. This created pictures that did more than merely copy what the artist saw, but recreated it in a more sculptural dimension, taking into consideration more than one angle. This greatly influence the younger generation of artists and was carried further by the cubists who distinctly showed those differing viewpoints in their works. This is why he is often said to be “one of the greatest of those who changed the course of art history.”

Today we will closely observe some everyday objects, break them down into their basic shapes and recreate them on our canvases.

1. Place a few items on each bank of desks or tables. (If a student wants to change seats for a better view of a particular object, allow it.)

2. Guide the students through looking at the items. Talk about the shapes, colors, textures you see. Point out the highlights and shadows that show the dimension.

3. Pass out canvases, have the students write their names on the back. Show them how to “rough in” where they want the objects on their canvas. Remind them to press very lightly with their pencils. So that they can barely see the marks. They don’t want the pencil to show through on their final paints.

4. Pass out paint wells and add small dots of color. Remind them that the paint goes a long way, they can have more if they need it, but you are only going to give a small amount to start so we don’t waste it.

5. Before you get started remind students how to properly treat their brushes. (We only dip the tip in the paint, that is the only part that can apply it; try not to get paint up into the barrel. Use gentle strokes, going in one direction (vs. scribbling back and forth) Gently rinse the brush when changing colors by lightly scrubbing the brush back and forth on the bottom of the water cup.)

6. Please wash the brushes after you are finished and leave them on the paper towels on the cart to dry for the next class to use. Students may want more than one size of brush, that is totally fine!