We arrived at our new “home” late this afternoon, and rather than trying to squeeze some homeschool work into the remaining daylight, we opted for some relaxing artwork. We recently ordered a really great book called Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga. The book introduces children to the great masters, some familiar like Picasso, van Gogh, and Michelangelo and others might be less familiar like Nevelson, Arp, and Hokusai. Each page is filled with hands-on projects that focus on one artist and one style of artistic expression. A brief biography and portrait of each artist is presented at the beginning of each project. This book is an excellent resource for children as young as three as well as older elementary children. The projects that represent each artist are easily imitated by all ages and abilities. This is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to explore art with children.
The artist we chose for today is Giotto (ZHEE-O-TO), the once chief master of cathedral building and public art in Florence, Italy. He lived from 1266 to 1337. In his day, paints were made from grinding minerals, clay, berries and even insect into fine powder and mixing the pigment with egg yolk. Apparently, the paint is very strong and long lasting. We can still enjoy Giotto’s paintings today which are over 700 years old.
We found some rocks around the campsite and used them to crush some artist pastel chalk for our egg paint. We have recently visited several Native American historic sites that feature the mano and matate used for grinding. It was fun to try our hands at this for our project.
We mixed in the egg yolk/water mixture to make a smooth paint. I have to say, grinding the chalk was messy fun!
Painting with this egg tempera was surprisingly pleasing! It went on the paper very smoothly, and could be layered a bit like watercolor.
(For all my students back home in New York, this would be a great project to use up all that extra sidewalk chalk left over from the summer!)
Stay tuned for more projects from this great book!
We purchased two picture frames that will display our artwork over the year. One frame opens on a hinge and can store many pieces at a time. We can easily rotate the current or favorite piece. The second frame is a shadow box, which is meant for displaying things that are not flat. In our case, we reversed the position of the mat and will use the extra space behind it to store more artwork. We can rotate work in this frame as well, just not as easily. I like displaying the family’s work in frames because it adds importance to the process. It also makes our little RV feel more like home!
Last night I decided to take some time to experiment with our new Crayola pastels to get ready to present a mini-lesson to the kiddos. I had never used pastels before, so I spent some time reading about different techniques and styles. I doodled around and created an interesting flower using the blending technique. I left my sketch pad open and on the breakfast table to be “discovered” in the morning. (I find that our kids are much more inclined to try new things if I can entice them or hint at possible projects.) My drawing was a big discussion point over breakfast, and I was glad that the kids could recognize my drawing as a flower!
B was first to grab her sketch pad and give it a try:
M joined soon after, and they really started to get the hang of it!
Usually, the kids try one drawing and move on to other things. Today they surprised me by trying different versions and exploring their own ideas. M came up with a sunflower design:
Before bedtime, we were back at it and having a really good time. (I sprayed the finished drawings with a clear fixative to prevent smudges!) Here are a few of our finished pastel drawings: