Thursday, 27 September 2018

Great Art Styles - From Impressionism to Surrealism - Part 1

Our 14th year of homeschooling has begun! Panda Girl asked if we could do a project on Modern Art which I thought was a brilliant idea as we've never covered that subject before. I spent the Summer planning and preparing, and decided to begin with Impressionism (we have done lots of projects revolving around Greek and Roman art, Renaissance, Gothic etc) and move forward chronologically from there, so we could understand its evolution and the people that inspired the movements.


Manet 1832-1883

We began with an experiment in melted crayon to achieve the dabbled look of Manet's paintings. Unlike other Impressionists, Manet rarely painted from nature so we sat inside with a still life centrepiece.

Monet 1840-1926

We used acrylic paint, damp paper and dry paper to experiment with Monet's daubing effect, looking at the Impressionists love of light on water and Monet's beloved waterlilies.

Degas 1834-1917

Degas loved the movement of racehorses and ballet dancers and many of his paintings portray races, performances and rehearsals. He was a French painter, sculptor and graphic artist.

The kiddies experimented with muslin cloths soaked in milk (we threw them away after a day!) and pastel drawings of dancers. The iron on the milky cloth is to seal the drawing into the fabric.

Sketches and ideas like Degas

Morisot 1841 - 1895

Morisot was a French painter, married to Manet's younger brother, and part of the Impressionist group in Paris. She liked bright colours, thick brush strokes and textured paint so the children experimented with adding texture to their bright paints: corn flour, flour, sawdust and salt.

Renoir 1841 - 1919

Renoir like light, fresh colours: "Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world". His early career saw him painting fine designs on china so this is where we took our initial ideas.

Next the kiddies experimented with watercolour to recreate Renoir's tones and pastel shades.

Sunbaby joined us for this one :)

At the end of our Impressionist week the kiddies matched paintings with their painters.


Van Gogh 1853-1890

Van Gogh painted approximately 800 pictures in his short lifetime. The children attempted his impasto style which Panda Girl found frustrating to do because she is not keen on the technique.

And we had to give his Starry Night a go :)

Sunbaby is my favourite Sunbaby of them all. Just sayin'.

Cezanne 1839-1906

Cezanne's work is seen as the bridge between Impressionism and 'Modern Art'. He often painted still lifes, using geometric shapes as the basis for his objects. The children drew a simple object in pencil, used a ruler to give the shape a strong edge and then used black paint to outline their object

Rodin 1840-1917

Rodin was a Parisian sculptor with a preference for strong, realistic statues. The kiddies tried carving clay as though it were stone. We discovered that carving a 3d object is much harder than moulding one, because there is no going back!

Gaugin 1848-1903

Gaugin was a French painter and unfortunately seems to be not the nicest of characters. However we did enjoy painting with unusual colours which was Gaugin's style.

Seurat 1859-1891

Seurat was... also French! He invented pointillism and some of his paintings took years to complete. To save time (!) we made teeny tiny pointillism pictures.

Expressionism, Abstract Art, Abstract-Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism

Matisse 1869-1954

Matisse shocked the art world with his strange shapes and bright colours. In his later years, as his eyesight failed him, Matisse worked on collages using colours to tell stories:

Blue: truth or heaven
Orange: love or gentleness
Red: excitement or fire
Green: growth or change

The kiddies worked on symbolic collages using bright paper and card. They used wood for a backing because it was fun!

Smaller collages using wood pieces.

Munch 1863-1944

"Munch expressed his sad childhood through his Expressionist paintings". Perhaps most well known is Munch's The Scream. The Boy did not like the idea of a sad childhood and he has never like that particular painting so we took a more light-hearted approach by creating faces using play dough. Monkey Girl took a break from her Diploma studies to demonstrate how she sculpts faces in clay.

Kandinsky 1866-1944

 Kandinsky was a Russian abstract painter and was the first artist to finally step away from Realism. Like Matisse, he believed colours had forms to be interpreted. He was a musician and saw his paintings as melodies or symphonies depending on their complexity.

The kiddies listened to Copland's Appalachian Spring and painted what the music created in their minds. I didn't give them the title of the piece of music so as not to influence their thoughts.

Mondrian 1872-1944

Mondrian expressed emotions using straight lines and basic colours. He wanted to use geometric designs to create a harmonious simplicity. We accidentally used up our black tape bordering Gaugin's paintings so we used green instead.

Klee 1879-1940

Klee was intrigued with children's art which, devoid of expectation, allows for a mysterious sort of creativity.  The kiddies tried single line drawing.

And then used wire to sculpt single line figures. Klee gave humorous names to his work so the children similarly entitled theirs with Crazy Wire Guy and Wire Man Showing off his Bendiness

Calder 1889-1976

Calder enjoyed creating from junk and was the first artist to introduce the idea of movement and 'mobile' in art. The children had huge fun creating a junk piece with bits and pieces.

So many more artists to come! Watch this space!