Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Citrus Still Life with Vincent

Last week we christened the Art Cart -- it was off and rolling to the classrooms!! Since this was my first experience teaching from a cart, I felt a bit like a brand new teacher on the first day of school!! However, I should not have fretted so -- all went well.

This was day one of a two-day lesson. We started by viewing some of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings done in the south of France from 1888 - 1890. Specifically, I showed 3 self portraits (including one with his bandaged ear) and asked the classes what they already knew about Van Gogh. That kicked off the discussion about his difficult temperament and troubled life. I showed "The Yellow House" and his "Bedroom" paintings and told the story about when Paul Gauguin came to stay and paint with Vincent (and their troubles).

That led into where they painted in the studio on the bottom floor of the yellow house and the painting, "Basket With Six Oranges."
I asked students to notice what kind of brush strokes the artist used and the direction of the little lines. Much to my delight, there were students in each class who also noticed the shading and highlights (we did a LOT of work with this the last 2 years).

Then we launched into the project by drawing the vertical and diagonal lines to create the walls and tables.
Children had to consider the size of the bottom of the basked as they formed their walls so that the basket would ultimately appear to be sitting on the table top and not floating. I modeled on the Smartboard how to draw the oval and sides of the basket so that it would be large enough to hold their fruit.
The next step was to draw first verticals and then curved horizontal lines (using crayons) to mimic the look of a real woven basket. I had the kids cut a slit along the bottom curve of their oval shape so that we can slide the fruit in there next week. This will help with overlapping and the look of 3-dimension.
We saved the background for the end of class because we were using chalk pastels (ie. MESSY). Surprisingly, I didn't have one child complain about the mess. I consider that artistic progress -- when I started doing this program 5 years ago, kids were frequently hung up on the not wanting dirty hands!!! Step one was to use pale sidewalk chalk to lay on a light first layer and smear it with their fingers.
 Then they added dark along the lines where the walls and table met and most smeared that, too. This is one of those "magic" experiences when kids hold up their work and see how the dark seems to recede, giving depth to their scene.
 The fun part was to try to emulate Van Gogh's short, choppy brush strokes with the pastels. Students had noticed that Vincent used dark colors around the base of the basket and the bottom part of the walls near the basket. They tried to do that, too.
 The final step was to glue the basket in place, being sure NOT to put glue where they had cut the slice in the basket.
During the next lesson, students will be making their fruit with oil pastels and putting them in place in and around their baskets. I'll be sure to post some of the finished projects next week:))


  1. I'm loving these already, can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. Thanks, Abby. Three classes finished these this week and I am getting some samples ready to post now. I LOVED how they turned out!!