Thursday, January 21, 2016

DIY Art History: Impressionism

We recently taught a 6-lesson elective on "DIY Art History" to a mixed age classroom (6-13). Each post on this blog describes one lesson.

DIY Art History: Impressionism (Lesson Plan) After covering the renaissance, we only had 2 lessons left and so many possible genres to cover! We decided to go into Impressionism next, because it was the first big departure from realistic painting styles - and it's also a lot of fun to do yourself. 

Some of the kids used q-tips to make pointillist-style paintings, while others went with big bold paint strokes. We held this lesson outside, so they could capture their impressions of the outdoors - and so that we had less paint mess to clean up. :)

Here's the presentation, lesson plan, supplies, and additional resources:


Lesson Plan

  • Intro: Role play
    • PersonA: Hi, I'm Louie Leroy, an art critic and classic painter. The year is 1873. So, this is some awesome art we've been making as a society in the last few hundred years. I'm really happy with how art's been going.
    • Here are some classic scenes with images from ancient myths... some religious imagery, that's also really popular, and some still lives. AND THEN THIS! WHAT IS THIS!
    • PersonB: I'm Monet, and this is a sweet painting of a boulevard I did!
    • PersonA: What is this nonsense? Please be so good as to tell me what those innumerable black tongue-lickings in the lower part of the picture represent?
    • PersonB: Those are people, walking down the boulevard.
    • PersonA: And this is just random people walking down a boulevard?
    • PersonB: Yes, this is a scene I painted from the real world.
    • PersonA [disapproving]: This seems more like a brief impression of real art than it seems like real art itself.
    • PersonB:  This *is* real art! It’s an impression of the real world around us.
    • PersonA: Hmph! I shall write an article about these impressionists!
  • Slide: Impressionism
    • Doesn’t try to paint every detail exactly
    • Tries to capture an impression of the scene - the mood, light, color, atmosphere
    • Was rejected at first for its lack of realism and “good technique”
  • Slide: Degas, The Dance Class
    • Shows the urban lifestyle, a pleasure activity
    • Not an idealized composition - “momentary” “un-choreographed”
  • Slide: Mary Cassat, Pearl necklace
    • Set at a Paris opera house, shows off the opulence of that life
    • It was hard for Mary Cassat to practice because she was a woman
  • Slide: Monet, Water Lillies
    • Monet was very interested in outdoor light
    • There’s no clear path for the eye to follow
    • Angled perspective
    • More beautiful than reality?
  • Slide: en plein air
    • Painting outside
    • Helped them capture the atmosphere/light/movement
  • Slide: Post-Impressionism
    • A reaction to impressionism
    • More symbolic, more refined techniques
    • Different artists reacted in different directions
  • Slide: Seurat
    • Developed the technique of pointillism/divisionism/”chromo-luminarism” based on the theory of optics- combining points of color so that the eye is tricked into blending them from far away
    • Contains millions of dots
    • Took 2 years to complete -  he did *not* paint outside, he based it on sketches
  • Slide: Pointillism
  • Slide: Bathers
    • His paintings often referred to different social castes and painted a picture of modern urban life, where people had leisure time after work
  • Slide: Van Gogh
    • More symbolic - olive trees represent cycle of life
    • Some thought that there’s religious meaning as well
  • Slide: DIY time!


We got most of our supplies from the local SCRAP store in SF, but I've included Amazon links to similar items for convenience.

Additional reading


No comments:

Post a Comment