january’s artist: louise nevelson

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Louise Berliawsky Nevelson was born on September 23, 1899 in what is now Ukraine. Her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Maine when she was six. Her father was a woodcutter and owned a lumberyard. This influence is definitely seen her heavy use of wood in her sculptures. Though her family flourished and was financially successful within a decade, there was a strong prejudice against Jewish immigrants in the community and life wasn’t perfect. Her Mother struggled with severe depression. Perhaps as a cure or compensation, her Mother would dress herself and her daughters in ornate costume like dresses and heavy makeup that belonged in an old world palace more than everyday Maine. Again, this influence would show up in her life.

At age nine, she saw a plaster cast of Joan of Arc in the public library and “was entranced by it.” Soon after, she decided to study art. In high school, she painted and drew. Soon after high school she married Charles Nevelson, a wealthy ship-owner. He was supportive of her artistic pursuits, but only to a limit. She felt stifled in the conservative upper class society and ultimately left Charles to study art in Germany.

Louise was strongly influenced by the cubists, especially Picasso; as well as Native American and Mayan art. She called herself “the original recycler.” She often combed the streets of New York for debris; such as a broken chair leg, pieces of wood or railings and tin cans, which were arranged into “Assemblage boxes” (Assemblage means that you create or assemble the art from objects found in everyday life.) She then spray painted them a single color so that the item’s identity was lost and only the form was visible. Pieces of wood and random garbage became sunflowers and dancing girls.

Nevelson felt that color was a vital aspect of art. She had three phases of color for her sculpture. The first and biggest was black, which she described as the “total color” that “it contains all color. It wasn’t a negation of color. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colors; black is the most aristocratic color of all.” In the 1960s she began incorporating white and gold into her works. Nevelson said that white was the color that “summoned the early morning and emotional promise.” She described her gold phase as the “baroque phase”, inspired by the idea being told as a child that America’s streets would be “paved with gold” Her installations were created with highly detailed boxes that could be assembled then taken apart to create a new piece of art.

Her works often explored her difficult past and the tumultuous times of the 1960s and 70s. As well feminism. The bride is a frequent symbol in her work, which she said represented her escape from the expectation to marry and have children. She also cultivated a distinct and eccentric public persona with flamboyant outfits. Although she was a key figure in the feminist movement, she said “I’m not a feminist. I’m an artist who happens to be a woman.” Nevelson died of natural causes at age 87 on April 17, 1988.

Today we will make our own assemblage boxes. Use the box as a base and up to 3 charms, gears or cutouts and as much dried pasta as you’d like. You can also cut other shapes or designs out of white or natural card stock. Mix the items together to make an interesting picture or design.

You can give the objects different depths by making a pop-up tab (accordion fold a strip of paper or fold it into fourths to make a box) that can be glued to the back of the object. Then you can glue it to the box to secure it. You can also use pieces of the fluff to give texture or depth to a shape.

Try to make the shapes tell a story. Think about what you are using not as what you already know it to be, but how it can be a part of something new. Make sure everything is secure in the box.

december’s artist: tomasso masaccio

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Tomasso Masaccio was born December 21, 1401 in a small town north of Florence, Italy. There is very little information documenting his life, but it was common for artists to become apprentices around age 12. Most likely, he went to work under a master in Florence around that time. His first documented work (which was signed by him) was completed in January 1422. Artists during the renaissance did not sign their work until they had achieved the status of master. Twenty-one was young to be a master and sadly Masaccio died when he was 26. During this short career though, he had a profound influence on art. He was one of the leaders that moved the style of painting from very ornate and unrealistic two-dimensional to a more natural and realistic view. He was one of the first to use linear perspective (with lines moving back to a vanishing point) as well as atmospheric perspective (where things get bluer, blurrier, and lighter as they recede into the background) in his painting. He used shading and directional light sources as well as shadows beneath objects to create much more life-like figures than the traditional use of outlines and flat, two-dimensional depictions. His work had a heavy influence on later artists, such as Michelangelo.

Masaccio created primarily religious works to ornament cathedrals, but he also painted a handful of portraits. He had a preference for showing people in profile. Today we will create our own portraits in profile. You can work with a partner and draw each other or use the hand mirrors to draw a self-portrait (Which will be more difficult, you will need to peak out of the corner of your eye to do so.)

This lesson will guide you through the general way to draw a face. Remind the students that each face is unique. It is by observing and drawing the unique features that we make our drawings life-like. This will be a bit technical, so help the students not to get too stressed out over the details.

1. Very lightly, draw a line the length you want your finished face to be. Lightly draw intersecting lines to divide this into thirds. This will give you a fame-work to keep the face in proportion.

2. Look closely at the shape of the nose then draw it in the center section, all the way from the top to the bottom.

3. In the top section, we will draw the forehead. Indent in a little where the nose meets the forehead and then bow out for the ridge of the brow bone. Now gently curve up to the top of the line to make the forehead.

4. Make a small mark 1/3 of the way down in the bottom section, this will be the mouth. Look at how the area connecting the lip and nose curves in. Make this and then curve out for the lip. The upper lip will end in the line. That is the opening of the mouth. Now make the bottom lip, indent in and slope back to make the chin. Then extend a line below the jaw down to make the neck.

5. The eyebrow will start at the top line. For now, make the general outline, but don’t worry about putting in a lot of detail. Look carefully at where the eye falls under the eyebrow. The bottom of the eye will be at about the center of the section. If you lay a pencil down at the corner of the nose the end of the eyebrow, the corner of the eye will fall along this line also.

6. Now erase the guide lines. Add in the interesting details. Make the eyebrows with several short strokes that will look like hair. Add in a few clumps of eye lashes around the eyes, frame the face with hair. For older students, you can talk a little about shading, if you’d like. Add some rich details like Masaccio would, a fancy necklace or hat. Put your subject in intricately detailed clothes, anything that makes it fun.

7. Finally, add a little bit of color by filling in the areas with chalk. Press lightly and use small strokes, then blend gently with your finger. Spray each picture with hairspray, holding the can 6” away to “fix” the chalk and pencil. This will keep them from smudging.

november’s artist: henri matisse

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Biography:
Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in northern France. His father was a successful grain merchant. Matisse went to law school and practiced briefly. When he was 20, he had appendicitis and his mother brought him a set of paints to keep him busy while he was recovering. He said that he discovered “a kind of paradise” during those days and abandoned law to study art. This was a bitter disappointment to his father, but Henri moved to Paris where he studied painting in the traditional style. In the next decade, he became friends with a then unknown VanGogh and started to follow the work of Cezanne and Gauguin. He quickly became a leader in the new styles of art. In 1898, he married Amélie Noellie Parayre and had 2 sons, he also had a daughter. Amelie and his daughter modeled for several of his works.
Around 1906, he was introduced to Pablo Picasso and the two became lifelong friends and rivals. Together, they are credited with defining modern art. During this time, he traveled to Morocco, Spain, Algiers, and Tangiers, ultimately settling in Nice. In 1939, he and Amalie divorced. Another of his common models, a Russian named Lydia Delectorskaya became his companion and worked with him, running the studio, keeping records and correspondence for the rest of his life. Matisse stayed in Paris and was able to work through WWI.
In 1941, he was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and was bedridden after surgery. He couldn’t paint and sculpt as he had before. A few times in earlier years, he had used collage for projects. Now, he began cutting paper that Lydia had painted bright colors into whimsical designs. Initially, they were small in scale, but soon they became mural-sized. He would direct assistants how to place the “cut-outs” in room-sized works. He used this technique to design the stained glass and interior of a small chapel in the French Riviera. He died of a heart attack in 1954. His children continued to work in the art world during their lives and the influence of his work can still be seen in modern art today!
Project:
We will make our own cut-outs like Matisse did. You can make your cut-out as simple or intricate as you’d like. Here are a few tips to make it easier:
You can plan out what you want to do with a rough sketch on a piece of scratch paper, but it isn’t mandatory.
Cut or tear the paper to give it different textures. You can fold the paper and then tear it to control where it tears more easily. You can also hold the paper with one finger, while using your other hand to pull the other side of the paper down to create a tear with a bigger edge.
Combine cuts and tears to give an interesting texture.
Arrange the pieces on the paper before gluing anything down to make sure you like the final design. When you are happy with the way it looks, glue everything in place.
After you are done hold the paper up and give it a little shake, make sure all of the pieces are secure.

october’s artist: edvard munch

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Edvard Munch was a forerunner of Expressionism and a pioneer in Modern art. He was born on December 12, 1863 on a farm in Loten, Norway. When he was only 5 years old, his mother died of Tuberculosis, which also claimed the life of one of his sisters a few years later. (There were 5 siblings, total.) Edvard was a sickly child and was homeschooled, by his pious father who was strict and often cold with the children. His family was tight-knit, staying close to home. He loved to draw from an early age and also loved the vivid ghost stories told by his father and the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. These things combined with a young exposure to mortality, gave him a preoccupation with death that can be seen in his artwork.

He studied art as a young adult, but his chronic illness kept him from finding much success in school. His father felt art was an “unholy pursuit” but Edvard was driven to express himself. In his journal, he wrote “…in my art I attempt to explain life and its meaning to myself.” He experimented with many different styles of art art as a student, and was often subject to harsh criticism from family, neighbors, and critics alike. His media is widely varied, he painted, used oil pastels, and drew and later added photography and printmaking to his skill set. As he grew more mature, he aimed to show the tension and emotions felt within rather than the external reality that can be seen by others. He did this by simplifying forms, using heavy lines and sharp contrast and colors and symbols to convey specific emotions.

The Scream is his most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in art. Munch made a handful of variations on the picture in pastel and paint. He recounted a night when he was walking with 2 friends and was suddenly filled with anxiety. Too tired to continue, he stopped and leaned against a nearby fence. As he did, the sky seamed to turn red and he felt nature scream around him. He later said that he felt himself “going mad” and knew he would never love again. Much of his art was biographical, as The Scream is. Mental illness was common in Edvard’s family and that turmoil is evident in his work.

Happily, in later life, Edvard sought treatment for depression and alcohol abuse. He greatly improved in spirit and his work took on a much more optimistic quality. At this point, he was also widely winning critics approval and was even given the title of Knight of the Royal Order of St. Olav “for services in art”. He died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on 23 January 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday.

*As you show the students Munch’s work, here are some conversation starters you can use to help them explore:

~Munch’s work is the perfect style for Halloween! Notice how even though the scenes are depicted with bright colors and happy subjects, there is a slightly eerie quality?

~What do you think about the faces? Edvard Munch said that he was more interested in depicting what was happening inside a person than showing a beautiful, flattering exterior. What do you think he was trying to show us?

~What do you think about the scream? Have you felt that way? (Generally one of the best questions to ask students about a picture is “How does this make you feel?”)

Today we are going to make our own pastel inspired by Edvard Munch’s style. You can do a landscape like Starry Night or a Portrait; but include some details to give the viewer an idea of your emotions like Munch did.

  • Pastels look a lot like crayons, but they are actually paint that is rolled into sticks. They are soft and have a rich color. They are easy to break, so hold them gently. It is fine to press firmly, but don’t press too hard.
  • Use your pencil to very lightly sketch where you want things, but try not to press to hard. The graphite can smear into the pastel and look muddy. Keep it simple, it’s best not to get too detailed.
  • Pastels blend a little bit differently than other media (Media is the art term for what you are using: paint, pencil, crayons, etc.) You can blend several colors together to create a more interesting texture. Layer blues and greens or purples together will look very nice, but you can even combine opposing colors, like red and purple or blue and yellow.
  • Generally you don’t want to blend with your fingers. Color with small strokes with your darker color, then layer the lighter color over the top and it will blend together. You can also color over the top with white to blend.

 

may’s art movement: art nouveau

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Art Nouveau (French for New Art) was a movement that swept throughout Europe and the United States from the early 1880s through 1915. The movement began in Britain, but was quickly taken up by other art centers as a response to the Industrial Revolution. Artists, craftsmen, architects and others consciously decided to work together to bring art into everyday aspects of life. They were unhappy with the utilitarian and mass produced lifestyle that they Industrial Revolution had sparked. With all of the mechanical advances made during this time, things could be mass-produced in factories instead of hand made by craftsmen which lead to a more homogenized and less thought out set of dishes or hairbrushes, etc.
The artists and artisans of the art nouveau movement also wanted to break down the hierarchy of arts that said fine art (such as painting and sculpture) were separate from home design and the more functional items that filled the general publics houses (often referred to as the applied arts). By embracing architecture, graphic art, interior design, and most of the decorative arts (such as jewelry, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils, and lighting), the founders of the movement hoped to create a world that was more beautiful to live in. According to the philosophy of the style, art should be a way of life. For many well-off Europeans, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house with art nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics, and jewelry, etc.
Artists took the plant forms they saw in nature and then flattened and abstracted them into elegant, organic motifs. Common elements of the period were controlled but swooping lines with rich design flourishes and stark contrasts. As the movement grew, the materials used became more lavish and the construction was highly skilled and detailed. This made many products more of a luxury and therefor not readily accessible to the general public. (However, the design motifs were also used in mass produced objects as well.) Louis Comfort Tiffany was a leader of the movement in America (often it was referred to as “Tiffany Style” in America). His intricate stain glass lamp shades are an excellent example of the art nouveau ideals.
Advertising was another interesting frontier during this time. (Railroads, and the telephone were newer innovations and made it much easier to move products and information great distances. You can imagine that life really changed around late1800s. This was the time when many things we take for granted today were being invented.) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters advertising the Moulin Rouge (a dance show) and other venues and products are considered to be the first of the modern format for the poster or billboard.
Art nouveau works were not all uniform in style. One artist, Siegfried Bing, said “Art Nouveau, at the time of its creation, did not aspire in any way to have the honor of becoming a generic term. it was simply the name of a house opened as a rallying point for all the young and ardent artists impatient to show the modernity of their tendencies.” Yet, it is easy to see a unifying style across this movement that did bear many different names in different countries at the time. This lavish style was ultimately the downfall of the art nouveau movement. As World War I unfolded, people turned to more functional design and the sweeping nature-inspired lines of art nouveau were replaced with modern, sleekly industrial designs of Art Deco. However, the graceful nature-inspired designs continue to show up in design today and the idea of infusing everyday life with art and beauty is one we should continue to uphold.
Today we will do just that as we try to redesign everyday objects and make them more beautiful. Use one piece of paper to brainstorm ideas and make rough sketches of how you could change some of the items you use everyday. Then take one or two of those ideas and make a more refined sketch of what that item would look like.
There are colored pencils on the cart as well as some colored paper to make it more interesting, but ultimately, this is a thought activity; just be creative and have fun with it!
*If there is time, encourage the students to share their ideas.

april’s artist: miquel barcelo

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Miquel Barceló, was born in Felanitx on the island of Majorca, Spain on January 8, 1957. He studied art there briefly in the Arts and Crafts School of Palma de Majorca before enrolling at the Fine Arts School of Barcelona in 1974. After a year in Barcelona he would return to Majorca to protest with “Taller Lunátic”, a conceptual vanguardist group that fought against (in the arts, not actual fighting) the notion that “painting is dead” and the move to more contemporary practices like art installations and performance art.

In the 1980’s he traveled extensively throughout Europe, United States and West Africa and would eventually set up studios in both Paris and Segou, Mali. These cultural influences can be seen in his work. After a series of exhibitions in the early and mid 1980s, Barceló’s popularity grew to the point that his work was shown in the most prestigious galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Modern Art Pompidou Center in Paris.

As homage to his homeland, Miquel Barceló crafted a mural of approximately 300m² for Majorca´s San Pedro Cathedral Chapel in 2004. He covered the walls of the chapel with terra-cotta and painted them with images related to the miracle of the loaves and fish from John in the Bible. Also in 2004 a series of watercolors, illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy, were shown at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Barcelo was 47 years old and the youngest living artist ever to have their work shown in the Louvre.

His biggest commission was the domed ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber in the UN’s Palace of Nations in Geneva. It features multicolored stalactite forms figuratively dripping from the ceiling. Barceló explained that the dome represented “a sea and a cave, in absolute and apposing union” He said the idea came to him “on a day of immense heat in the middle of the Sahel desert” in Africa in where “the mirage of an image of the world was dripping towards the sky…. flowing drop by drop”

Now in his sixties, Miquel Barceló continues to split his time working in Paris, Spain, and Mali today. His work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and cast iron.

Today we will try some sculptural painting of our own. Show the students the different materials we have to add texture to their paintings. Tell them to lightly sketch out the design you want to make on your canvas board. You will want to keep your design somewhat simple and add one or two of the materials to give it a different texture. You may want to do something representational (a picture of something, made to look realistic) or abstract (a picture that is not of anything recognizable). You may want to paint the background first or you may want to add the joint compound to build up ridges or shapes and then carefully paint on top of that.

Some hints to help make these paintings more successful:
-Give the joint compound some time to dry by working on other areas before painting it.
-Paint very lightly over the compound. If you press into it, it will make marks. I often tell my students to just lightly tickle it with the brush.
-Lightly press the yarn or fabric into the compound or wet paint to help it adhere to the board.

*When setting up, I recommend getting there a few minutes early to fill water cups. (I usually do a cup per pair of students–it is less to clean up.) After I have given the discussion part of the lesson, I pass out the boards and while students are sketching their design, I pass out the water, brushes napkins and plates. Then I go around with the paint and give them small (dime sized) dabs of paint. I tell them they can always have more, but often this is all they need so we start with this much. Give the students that want it a spoonful of joint compound (they can have more if they need it, but it’s best to start small) and let them come get the other items off the cart as needed.

*Please wash the brushes very thoroughly with a small amount of dish soap and put them in the container with the brush tip up. (If you put the brushes down, it bends the bristles and they loose their shape and don’t work well.)

march’s artist: gustav klimt

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Gustav Klimt was born on July 14, 1862 near Vienna, Austria. He was the second of seven children in an artistic family. His mother loved music and his father was a gold engraver. His brothers were also artistic and they were encouraged to develop their skill as children. In his teens, Gustav went to art school with his brothers and formed a group called the “Company of Artists” with another friend and the 4 teens had great success doing murals in public buildings and aiding better known artists in their work.
In 1892, Gustav’s father and brother both died, which had a great effect on his work. He became the chief support for his family. His turned to the much more stylized look that he would become famous for. This is also the time that he met Emilie Louise Flöge, who was his life-long love and companion. (The painting “The Kiss” is of them.) Emilie was a fashion designer and they would work closely together, influencing each other’s art for the rest of their lives. He would help design her costumes. If you look at his paintings with this in mind, you can see the influence of fashion, as well as the textural quality—almost like fabric on the clothing. Gustav had 14 children.
Gustav Klimt enjoyed mush success and notoriety in his life. The government in Vienna was nurturing to the arts and he was appointed the as the president of a government supported group that encouraged the arts and sought to bring new artists to Vienna. Interestingly, there was no manifesto—this wasn’t an art movement, per se. They encouraged all of the different styles and everyone worked and exhibited together. While Klimt’s work was often in limelight, he himself was a quiet and reclusive figure. He painted deliberately with great attention to detail and worked hard. While he collaborated with many other artists on projects, he did not like to socialize with many people. He worked day and night and rarely spent time with people outside of his family.
Just like his personality, Gustav Klimt’s work can seem contradictory. His figure paintings are boldly geometrical and patterned contrasted with ethereal highly detailed brushwork on the people themselves. His landscapes have a similar, very refined quality and did not include the use of gold leaf like his figure paintings did.

Today we are going to try our hand at incorporating metallic elements into a painting. Since this project could get a little complicated, there will be a simple example and a more detailed example. For grades kindergarten-second, just show the simple example.

1. Very lightly, sketch out your design.
2. Decide where to put the foil and cut out the basic shape, then lay it down on the paper and trim as needed.
3. Carefully, glue the back of the foil with the glue stick. Hold the top with your finger and move in one direction. Press lightly, it is easy to tear the foil.
4. Put the foil on the paper and smooth down. Glue any edges that need it.
5. Water color the rest of the picture.

february’s artist: dmitri prigov

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Dmitri Alexandrovich Prigov was a poet, graphic artist, sculptor, creator of installations, performance artist, and philosopher during the tumultuous 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Prigov is one of the most famous figures of the “unofficial art” the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was born on November 5, 1940 in Moscow. His father was an engineer and his mother a pianist. After school, he spent two years working in a factory as a metalworker. As a teen in 1956, Prigov started writing poetry which was the medium he was most active in throughout his life. In 1966, he graduated as a sculptor from the Higher Industrial Art School.

From 1966–1974, he worked for the Moscow city architectural department as an inspector overseeing the painting of building and projects in municipal parks. During this time he developed an affiliation with other underground artist and poets. During Communist rule in Russia, recognized artists were very restricted in what they could produce. This time was very different from what we are used to. In the United States, people can say what they want; artists can paint whatever subject they like. During Prigov’s early career, this was not the case. The few artists that were supported by the state were told what to depict. This is part of what makes Dmitri Prigov such an interesting person. He challenged the commonly accepted beliefs and was one of the creators of the underground art movement. He was even briefly imprisoned for his work.

As an artist, Prigov was drawn to everything fragile, he liked using material like newspapers — which he considered a metaphor for human beings with a perishable body but filled with ideas and thoughts to create his art installations. (An installation is like a life size scene that uses everyday objects and that is, itself, the piece of art. For example in the pictures on the cart there is an arrangement of newspapers with the word “Glasnost” painted on them. Glasnost is the policy of more open sharing of information with the public that was instituted by the new government after the fall of the Communism. *Take a moment to talk about this picture with the older students. Consider Prigov’s use of newspaper to represent the fragility of humans and the bold way Glasnost is painted over the top. What do they think Prigov was trying to say?* This is usually what art installations (Which are a more modern art form) are usually about…making a statement and causing the viewer to think about a subject in a new way.

Dmitri Progov’s art was more about getting ideas and messages across to the viewer than being beautiful and artistic. He considered himself first a philosopher and used all of his different talents together to convey his message. For example, he would do several drawings of an idea or installation, and they would be part of the art. Then he would set up a scene from one of those drawings and often he would have someone film him reading his poetry in the scene. You can see how this creates several different pieces that are all part of the whole idea. Using so many different techniques is very impressive in itself!

Dmitri created interesting ways to record his poetry. Sometimes he cut out lines and stapled, taped, and glued them into interesting designs. He also made little books whose shapes added to part of the story or poem inside. Today we are going to do our own shaped books. While we are talking, think about a favorite story or make one up. You could also create a poem. Poems are often more threads of ideas or images than a fully formed story. (For the older grades, read Prigov’s poem below. It will be a little above what 2nd graders and bellow can really understand.) Think about your favorite things… like springtime, winter, fall or summer or an activity you like to do. Think about a shape that will help tell the story or show one of the important parts of it and cut your papers into that shape. Show the students the example and walk through the books to help them see how to do it:
1. Plan your story and design. Decide how many pages you will need.
2. Stack the pages together (up to about 4) and lightly draw the design then cut them out together. If you have more pages, you will need to cut the first batch then trace one of the papers onto the top paper of the second batch.
3. Trace the stack of papers onto the cover sheet of colored paper, giving a little extra room for an edge.
4. Write your story/poem on the pages and illustrate where desired, then staple everything together.

Unnamed Poem by Dmitri Prigov

It’s not important the recorded milk production
Cannot be compared to the real milk production
Everything that’s recorded is recorded in the heavens
And if it will come to be not in two or three days
Nevertheless it’s really important when it will
And in some high sense it’s already come true
And in some low sense everything will be forgotten
And it’s nearly been forgotten already
-Dmitri Prigov

january’s artist: anna mary moses

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Anna Mary Moses was born on September 7, 1860 on a farm in Greenwich, NY. She was one of 10 children and she left home to work on a nearby farm at age 12. She showed an interest in art at an early age and was even given a set of chalk and crayons by one of the families she worked for who noticed her interest. During her limited time at school she relished art classes. However, she never spent much time with art. One can imagine that earlier American farming life was a lot of difficult work and didn’t leave much time for pursuing hobbies.

At age 27, she married Thomas Moses and began a farm and family of her own, having 5 children that survived infancy (10 pregnancies total). Anna Mary was known for adding an artist touch to everyday life. She painted items in their home and embroidered and quilted. After Thomas died of a heart attack, she passed the farm onto one of her sons and began to paint with her spare time. A local grocery store hung her paintings. An art collector noticed them one day and bought them, leading to her first solo showing when she was 80 years old. People loved the vibrant depictions of “old time” country life. She was called Grandma or Mother Moses by those who knew her and soon the press also picked up this name. Over the next three decades, she would produce over 1500 canvases and her work would be reproduced and printed on tiles, fabrics, ceramic and used to advertise various household products. Grandma Moses painted crowded and busy panoramas in vivd colors that gave a happy view of a simpler time. She never received any formal education and is a great example of how anyone can become an artist, no matter your education or age. Anna Mary Moses died at the age of 101.

Look over the prints with the students (there are explanations of what each scene is showing printed on the back of the pictures to help with this). Point out the busy and detailed scenes. It is these details that make her paintings so interesting. They draw the viewer into a scene that they might have no experience with, but make them feel at home like they belong there. Notice perspective isn’t super important here. The lack of training gave her paintings a stylized look. Today we are going to make our scenes like Grandma Moses. Think of something your family likes to do, a time of year or holiday and all of the things that go on during that time or maybe a vacation you have taken and enjoyed. Now map out all of the activities in your picture. Use the colored pencils to make it vibrant and interesting and don’t forget to add the details that will make your viewer feel like they are there!

peter paul reubens

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Peter Paul Reubens was born on June 28, 1577 in a city near Antwerp, Belgium. His father was a leader in the Calvinist (Protestant) faith and his mother was strongly Catholic in a time of great religious upheaval in Europe. Growing up in such a religious environment led Reubens to be a deeply religious man. He became a voice in the Catholic church and many of his paintings depict religious subjects. Reubens entered an apprenticeship at age 14, where he learned primarily by copying works of the masters. He graduated and gained master status, then moved to Italy to continue his studies. After eight years, he returned to Antwerp and set up a thriving studio with several artists working under him. Reubens became a leading Flemish painter for altar-pieces and religious scenes as well as portraits done for noble families.

His work was quite stylized and illustrates a lot of the popular opinions of the day. He favored using robust and curvy women (usually nudes) for scenes to show his views of women as lesser to men in social standing, as well as virtuous, fertile and beautiful. Men on the other hand, were shown as extremely muscular and usually in athletic, aggressive poses, showing his views of men as capable, forceful and powerful. He included a lot of symbolism in his paintings as well as religious references, even in his portraits. (This style preference has lead to the term Reubenesque to describe someone who is chubby.) Reubens is also known for his luminous style to painting. The faces almost seem to shine, he did this show the spiritual light coming from within.

Today we will try creating a portrait in a style like Reubens. By using chalk on a darker background, we can get a similar luminescence (or the look of light shining) from the face you will draw.  Have the students pair up to draw portraits of each other. Teach these tips to get a realistic portrait.

  1. Make a large oval and draw a light line down the center or slightly to the left or right with your pencil. (From forehead to chin.) You can do it however your partner is sitting, but it will look more natural if the person is looking a bit to the side rather than straight on.
  2. Now lightly draw another line across (ear to ear) about halfway down the face. It is best to give it a little bit of curve as well.
  3. Now draw the eyes with the base on the line.
  4. Divide the lower half evenly into thirds (it doesn’t have to be perfect!) make the bottom of the nose on the first line. You can do this by making a shallow “u” and then upside down “u”s on each side.
  5. Finally sketch in the lips on the bottom line.
  6. Now take the chalk and shade and fill in the face and the features, including hair.
  7. When the portrait is complete, let the students bring them to you or the teacher and spray them very lightly with a bit of hairspray from about 6 inches away. This will help set the chalk so it doesn’t smear.
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