William H. Johnson was a brilliant twentieth century American artist. Although his work was largely ignored in his lifetime he gained the notoriety he so desperately sought after his death.
He was born in South Carolina in 1901 and by the age of 17 had left his small rural hometown for New York seeking success and fame as an artist. His travels took him all the way to Europe where he met and married his wife, but he eventually returned home after he began to have a longing for painting people and scenes that were familiar from his childhood.
His style changed very much over the years, but he is most well-known for his later works done in a simplistic cubist style using bright and vibrant colours.
My Picassos are getting into the whole Dr. Seuss celebrations too! In honor of his birthday we talked about our favorite Seuss stories and favorite Seuss Characters! Who doesn't remember learning to read (or for some of us more recently, watching their toddler learn to read) Green Eggs and Ham?!? There are soooo many to choose from!
Each character of course has its own look and style but they are all distinctively Seuss. So we looked at a few popular ones and talked about what they had in common and then the kiddos got to create their very own Dr. Seuss character which they drew and painted.
They also had an additional exercise today... they each had to complete a little worksheet of sorts that gave a bit of description to their characters. Let's hear it for Dr. Seuss!
The Hindu community is celebrating another beautiful festival so this week the Picassos and I are learning all about this colourful event! Phagwa or Holi as it's also called is a celebration of new life and it marks the beginning of the Hindu year! It also coincides with spring (yet another point of learning since we get to discuss seasons we don't experience here at home), which is probably why all those beautiful colours are used to spray the joyous participants!
Our piece today portrays the lively colours of the abeer dye and the Picassos created a loose and expressive line portrait of a face drenched in the festivities of Phagwa!
Note: all tissue paper are not created equal! Because our colours were not as vibrant as I had hoped we added some splashes of liquids watercolours as well!
Last week the Picassos looked at the struggles of Horace Pippin and his determination to get back to painting after injuring his arm. (He took 3 years to complete his first painting after his injury!) They created pictures of themselves sitting at their easels and imagined what they would be painting and conjured up their fantasy bedrooms/art studios! See the first part of this lesson here.
This week they painted them and they are just dreamy!
The Picassos were introduced to the artist Horace Pippin and I used the book A Splash of Red to tell the story of his life and give them an idea of the man and his art. Horace overcame his poor upbringing and even survived a war albeit with an injured arm but none of that could keep him away from his love of art! He found a way to prop his injured arm so he could still draw and he worked and worked until it got stronger and he was brave enough to exhibit his paintings even though he had no formal art training and his work eventually made him famous!
This story is meant to highlight that everyone's journey is different and really gives the children a chance to be quiet and imagine. (Something that can get lost in a world full of distractions!)
They looked at some pictures of his art and then they started drawing from their imaginations... which is what Horace did! They all started off with the shape of an easel on their paper and they were tasked to imagine the rest of the art piece. What would they be painting on their easel? What would their room look like? Take a look at the start of their imagination pieces... Next week they'll complete them with paint!
The Carnival season is fast approaching and I feel like this term only just started but here we are jumping right into Carnival mode! As we all know Moko Jumbies are an exciting and intriguing part of Carnival culture. The Picassos got a bit of history on what influences brought them to our shores and what they symbolize and then we got right down to watching this short clip of children their age who are learning the Moko Jumbie skills!
Their task today... to draw and paint a Moko Jumbie. To do this they had to decide on their composition... where is the Jumbie doing his dance, what is in the background? They also had to come up with his pose and costume or clothes. Then of course they decide if they will draw one Moko Jumbie or a group. Take a look at what they produced.
This week it's all about the eccentric Salvador Dali at the studio! Dali is known for creating some extremely strange and thought-provoking art in the surrealist style. He was born in Spain in 1904, the second son to his parents. His older brother also named Salvador Dali died before he was born and his parents gave him the same name. Some say that this is why young Dali fought to have his personality recognized and made such a show of his presence.
Dali had many, many quirks... such as;
But Dali put all of his eccentricity into his art so you know that the resulting images pushed the limits of what was considered to be normal! The Picassos looked at one of his pieces in particular, simply named Elephants, which you can see below.
The animal with its long spindly legs brings to mind the concepts of weight and space. We talked about the symbolism in the painting and I drew their attention to the bulkiness of the animal, the thin legs, the barren background and the obelisks on the backs of the elephant and the fact that these are actually floating.
They created their own Dali-inspired animals! Take a look.
Last week the Picassos followed in the footsteps of Post-Impressionist artist Henri Rousseau and created some beautiful jungle scenes. This week watch as they bring these jungle scenes to completion using a variety of different techniques and take in their animals!
Point of Note:
Rousseau painted a variety of 'zoo animals' in his jungle scenes because he never actually left Paris and created his paintings from his research at the zoo and the botanical gardens... so the children are aware for instance that a giraffe's habitat is actually the savanna! LOL
From contemporary artist Sandra Silberzweig we're moving to 19th Century Post Impressionist artist Henri Rosseau! Rosseau was a self-taught artist who became famous for his jungle scenes. All his artwork was created from his imagination because he never actually left his home of Paris France.
The children started creating their leafy backgrounds today using a combination of techniques. They learnt all about positive and negative space and created their own stencils, they sponge painted for texture and also drew and collaged some leafy foliage to give their jungle scenes some depth. Next week they will finish off their backgrounds and our jungle inhabitants will move in, so stay tuned you don't want to miss that!
Last week the Picassos started their abstract portraits inspired by contemporary artist Sandra Silberzweig and this week they're adding lots of colour, line and pattern to make those portraits really pop!
They are also getting some practice using analagous (colours next to each other on the colour wheel) colour schemes and working with chalk pastels!
To see the first part of this project -> Silberzweig Portraits
Be a fly on the wall in our art room! Take a look at what we do, how we do it and the smiles that I get to see week after week :)