Monday, December 6, 2010

Landscape, Still Life, and Collage

To recap what we've been doing the past couple of weeks: The week of Nov. 15th, just before Thanksgiving break, we learned all about Landscapes!
 The one featured above is by Asher Durand, an artist of the Hudson River School (HRS), and is titled Kindred Spirits. This painting paid homage to fellow artist Thomas Cole, and to the poet William Cullen Bryant. We talked about how this particular landscape combines elements of the Clove of the Catskills and also Kaaterskill Falls, becoming an "imaginary" landscape built from real locations.
Henri Rousseau's Landscape with Cattle
We looked at a number of different styles of landscape painting, comparing Durand's, and the HRS's romanticism-inspired works to Rousseau's primitive style . . .
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
. . . and compared these to the post-impressionism work of Vincent van Gogh. We marveled over the impasto of van Gogh's painting, and his use of curvilinear lines.
View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm--The Oxbow (1836) by Thomas Cole
Students learned about the Rule of Thirds, and how it applies to landscape. Then, we took turns pointing out the how this rule was applied in each work of art on display before creating our own landscapes.
Henri Rousseau's Virgin Forest at Sunset (1910)
After returning from Thanksgiving break, we learned about the genre of Still Life, and how this particular type of art allows the artist some flexibility--through arrangement, palette, etc. We talked about how this becomes a good "exercise" for the artist in terms of honing their skills.
Chardin's Still Life: Apples, Pear, and White Mug
We talked about popular themes in still life: fruit, flowers, vases, fabric--basically, things from everyday life.  We also discussed the works with regard to balance and symmetry, light and shadow, realism vs. stylization, warm vs. cool, and so on. 
van Gogh's Irises (1890)
We also discussed how, in a successful composition, the viewer's eye will first "land" somewhere on the painting, then "take off" and travel around a bit, before returning where it initially landed. We took turns talking about how each of us viewed the paintings, and then analyzed why our eyes wanted to go to various places first--what the artist did to manipulate the way we unconsciously view the work.
Cezanne's Still Life (c. 1890-1894)
For instance, Cezanne gives us an island of warm in a sea of cool. All of the wonderful visual texture surrounding the fruit makes our eyes want to look at, or travel around, the rest of the work, but those warm colors force us to come back. Brilliant!

Finally, young artists worked on a still life that was set up in the center of the room. I've said this before but it bears repeating: We have some fantastic artists in our school!

In ATCs, ACEOs, and Art in Miniature, we had a BLAST working on small-scale collage. First, we browsed magazines to find a small picture, or the single element of a picture, then carefully cut it out. Once done, we decided where this element would go on our paper and then carefully drew & colored in the background. Once this was done, our cut-out was glued down to complete the composition. We'll be completing and/or continuing these projects in the coming week, so check back next week for photos!
That's right! Our last wet clay day will be this coming week (December 7th and 8th). Our works will need sufficient time to dry (become "bone dry") before they can be bisque fired. No worries, though, because we'll be super busy finishing works that have already been fired. Some things will require glazing (which means they'll need an additional firing), and some works will be finished in either acrylic paint or wax. Students: Please bring back any works that you would like to finish during the last few weeks of this semester. We'll be doing our "finishing" work on Dec. 14th-15th, and Jan. 4th-5th. 
Remember that WINTER BREAK is Dec. 20th-Jan. 3rd!
The End-of-Semester Art Show is Jan. 11th-12th!

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