Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Artists paint landscapes

Grade level : third graders .

Art Concepts and Skills : A landscape painting usually has 3 areas : foreground , middle ground and background . A landscape can be drawn with a black pen before applying watercolor washes which tend to make the black lines soft and fuzzy .

Materials needed : * white paper (9 x 12 " or smaller )

* black felt pens

* watercolors

* small brushes

* water containers

* rags

* color photos of landscapes .

Vocabulary : * Balance : to keep steady , to keep even .

* Composition : the combining part to form a whole .

* Foreground : the part of the picture that is or seems to be the nearest to the person who is looking at it .

* Middle ground : what is in the middle of the picture . It is not the closest , but it is not the farthest in the picture . It is half-way .

* Background : the part of the picture that is the farthest from the person who is looking at it .

* Horizon : the line where the sky and the earth or sea seem to meet .

Resources : A landscape is a painting that shows us the natural world around us : trees , lakes , mountains , fields , etc. Sometimes the artist shows us people or animals working or living in the landscape paintings . Other time the artist shows us the landscape itself . Most landscapes include 3 parts :
(1) The foreground : the things that are the closest to you and are shown lowest in the picture . (They are also the biggest !)
(2) The middle ground : the things that are farther away and higher in the picture . (They are the things in the middle of the picture .)
(3) The background : the things that are the farther away and higher still . (The are the smallest things you see on the picture !)

Here are some landscapes painted by well-known artists . Which shows churches ? Which one show a whole city ? Which one is a single building ? Which one has a windmill ? Which landscape would you like to visit ? Which landscape would you NOT like to visit ? Why ?

(1) El Greco (1548-1614) View of Toledo . In this painting , El Greco shows us the city of Toledo . By the time he painted this picture he had lived there 31 years . Toledo is a very old city that is located on a high plateau in central Spain . Can you find the river in this painting ? Can you find the old city wall ? (Both are good protection !) Look at the sky . Why do you think it is so dark ? ( A storm is approaching .) What do you see in the foreground ? ( Trees , shrubs and the river .) What do you see in the middle ground ? ( A meadow with trees on the right , a building on the left and the city wall .) What do you see in the background ? ( The city of Toledo .) Where is the horizon ? (Where the land and the sky seem to meet .)
El Greco , whose name means "the Greek" , was born on the Greek island of Crete . He started studying in Greece , but then move to Italy (in Rome and Venice) . At 36 , he moved to Spain , to the city of Toledo where the Spanish King Phillip II was building a palace . He hoped to help with the decoration of the palace , but the king did not like his work and did not hire him .

(2) John Constable (1776-1837) Salisbury Cathedral . John Constable painted pictures of this church , called the Salisbury Cathedral many times . The Cathedral is over 700 years old and the spire (tower) you see in the painting is 404 feet tall , the tallest spire in England . This style of architecture is Gothic . Gothic buildings are known for their pointed arches and great heights . Can you find some pointed arches on the cathedral ? What is in the foreground ? (The narrow strip of land at the bottom of the painting , the pond from which the cows drink , and the trees which frame the cathedral .) What is in the middle ground ? (People strolling and cows grazing in the sunlit field .) What is in the background ? (The cathedral .) Look at the clouds . Can you see the sun ? During what season did he paint the cathedral ? (Summer) .
John Constable was an English artist , whose father was a miller . He always loved the countryside . He was among the first painters to paint outdoors , spending hours in the open air , drawing trees , fields and rivers . He was especially fascinated by the changing sky . His paintings were first appreciated in another country, France .

(3) Claude Monet (1840-1926) Tulips in Holland . Describe what you see in this landscape . What are the largest areas of colors (red , yellow and violet ) supposed to be ? (Flowers.) Where (what country) do you think Monet was when he painted this landscape of windmill ? (Holland) Then we can also know that the flowers are tulips . What do you see in the background ? Where is the horizon ? In Monet's painting there few outlines . What objects are seen fairly clearly ? (The buildings .) Notice how all the flowers blend into one another . We cannot see even one flower clearly !
Claude Monet was a French artist . He decided that only by painting outdoors could an artist paint a picture of the way things really look . (Before him , painters would make their drawings outdoors , but would then return to their studio to paint them .) Monet was very poor . People started buying his painting once he was 50 .

(4) Lyonel Feiniger (1917-1956) City Hall in Rega . What is the focus or center of interest of this painting ? (The city hall .) The space in this painting is very shallow (close to the edge of the painting ) . What is the foreground ? (A tower with a blue top .) What is the background ? (The city hall.) The entire painting is broken into geometric shapes . Find and identify some of this shapes . The shafts (thin beams of lights ) of sunlight . When the subject (a person , a tree , a house , etc.) of a painting is broken up and reassembled into geometric shapes by the artist , we call this kind of painting cubist .
Lyonel Feininger was born in New York . He went to Germany to study . His favorite subjects were sailing ships and cityscapes . In 1937 , during the World War II , he left Germany and returned to the United States until his death in 1956 .

(5) Edward Hopper (1882-1967) Seven A.M. In this painting by Hopper , is there a foreground , a middle ground and a background like we have seen in Constable's painting of the Salisbury Cathedral ? By giving us a diagonal view of the street , almost everything seems to be in the foreground . What about the building ? Can you find the front of the building ? (The window display and the rest of the store which is mainly in the shadow .) Part of the building is in bright sunlight . From which direction is the sun coming ? What time does it say on the clock in the window ? The title is "Seven A.M." . It is seven in the morning . What is happening to the sun ? (It is rising .) Find the horizontal and vertical lines and shapes in the painting . Notice how the park or area of trees on the left contrast with the building . There are hardly any straight lines here , the grass and low shrubs from a curved area as do the bunches of leaves on the trees . In what other ways are the building and park contrasted ? (Color and light ; harsh early morning light on the building contrasts with the warm browns of yellow/greens of the park .) What kind of building do you think it is ?
Edward Hopper was an American painter who was born in Nyack , New York . He attended art school in the United States and then traveled to Paris , France , where he studied for a year . In order to make money , he worked as an illustrator .

(6) George Seurat (1859-1891) Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte . Many people think that this is the most important painting of the 1880's . The artist planned every detail according to his theory of color . He made hundreds of drawings in preparation and over 30 oil sketches . The artist spent 2 years on this work . He made every point of color with much care . The effects of both vertical and horizontal lines against the curving forms of sails , parasols , and the dog's tail make for a marvelous design structure . La Grande Jatte is an island park on the river la Seine just outside of Paris . The colors are bright and we can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the shade . The water seems to shimmer (to shine with a faint , unsteady light ). The artist's method was to apply the paint in small dots of pure color in such a way that our eyes blend them when we look at the painting from a few feet away . He used only red , yellow and blue , plus white to obtain the secondary colors . Shadows were made from complementary colors of the lighter areas . The figures high up on the painting are smaller and less detailed . (Why?) The ones in the foreground are larger and closer to us . How many activities can you identify that people are doing ? The woman on the right is wearing a dress that was popular at the time .
Seurat died at the age of 32 . His main effort went into a few large pictures in which he perfected the technique of "pointillism" .

Project : (1) Use a black felt pen and draw a landscape . You may choose to use some places you have seen in the photos .

(2) Include details . Show kinds of tree trunks , branches , leaves , shapes of houses and cars . Fill the paper . Remember to draw things in the foreground , some in the middle ground and some very small things in the background . The background will be the highest area on the paper .

(3) Put a drop of water in each color of the watercolor tray to soften the colors . Rinse brush in water and wipe it on the rag . Keep water clean .

(4) Mix watercolor washes in the paint tray lid and apply them to your drawing . Keep color fresh and clean . Don't scrub with the brush . When washes touch the black lines , the lines will become fuzzy and soft .

Example :