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An Artist's Study

Our 4's class has been doing a long term investigation of artists. The children love to paint and talk about becoming artists when they grow up. Following their interest in art, the teachers began an investigation about ways to create art. Thus began "An Artists Study"...

An Artist Study

With so many talented artists in the Dagim class, it only seemed natural to study some well-known artist and try out their different painting techniques.

HENRI MATISSE: We began our inquiry by reading the book Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter. Upon seeing the book cover, Eli noticed, “He’s cutting in his bed”. We discovered that Henri Matisse was a painter for a long time before he got ill and started cutting papers to use in his artwork. “My pleasure in cutting things out grows even greater. Why didn’t I think of it earlier?”

The children then sat down and began cutting and gluing. “It’s a collage, look! You got to cut out shapes and glue them on.” explained Ari as he worked. Rose was quick to get to work saying “I cut stairs and some squiggles.” Ella contemplated the group project and then declared “I want to glue mine here because it has space.”

The children also shared their previous knowledge of famous paintings as they worked. “I went to a museum once and saw lots of pictures” shared Rose. “I saw lots and lots and lots of beautiful pictures at a museum and I took pictures of them” added Ari. The Morah suggested that one day we might visit a museum and see the Dagim children’s artwork hanging there.

CLAUDE MONET: The next day we watched two YouTube videos to learn about Claude Monet. The children were asked how they feel while they saw Monet’s paintings. Asher F. said, “I feel happy and very nice”. Simon expressed himself by saying “happy and excited” while Ella told everyone “I’m feeling quiet”. The children discovered that Monet’s style is about how art makes you feel and not just what you see.

We then used finger paint to create pictures similar to Monet’s famous “Water Lilies”. “I’m using just my finger because it’s called finger paint” explained Rose as she created her masterpiece.

The children then tore pieces of colorful tissue paper to glue on their painted ponds. This created the water lilies. “Are lily flowers purple?” asked Rose as she tore the tissue paper? “In the picture they are pink” replied Eli. “Claude Monet’s picture” he clarified, showing pride in what he had learned. “My water lily is hard to glue on” Asher F. chimed in. “Wow!” exclaimed Ella as she encouraged Asher F. “It looks just like the picture”. Eli was quick to remind us “the artist painted feelings”. “My water lily makes me feel peaceful” said Rose. Although this endeavor was not created only using paint like Claude Monet did, the finished reproductions were stunning!

To see how much the children had learned about our

artists so far, we played a fun game at the next meeting time. Each child held a popsicle stick with a copy of Monet’s “Water Lilies” on one side and a collage by Matisse on the other. As the teacher said a fact about an artist, the children had to hold up their popsicle stick with the correct artist showing for whom that fact was true about.

GEORGE SEURAT: Our next artist to explore was George Seurat. The first thing we did was read the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds. This is a well-liked story which emphasizes that anyone can create art, even if they only draw one dot! This began a discussion about pointillism. Simon summed it up by saying “it’s just art by dots”. Ella suggested “it’s much slower to paint because it’s hard work” while Rose added “because you are doing it slowly”.

The children then sat down to try it. They drew simple items on their paper and then using the eraser on the back of a number two pencil dipped in paint, they filled in their drawings with dots or points of color. “This is fun” exclaimed Lia Joy. “I like painting dots” (as she tried not to give in to the impulse to brush stroke with the eraser). “Well” said Simon, “I like paint brushes better because it is easier”.

MARC CHAGALL: The next day, Marc Chagall was introduced to the class through a story called Through The Window by Barb Rosenstock. We also looked at a book called The Jerusalem Windows. It showed the children lots of examples of Chagall’s stained glass windows. “Hey” asked Asher F, “do we have those windows at Beth Sholom?” He was remembering the windows in the Epstein Sanctuary so we went downstairs to look at them. “That is so pretty” exclaimed Ella. As Asher A admired the stained glass he commented “actually when I get old, maybe I’ll do art.” Ari noticed more than just designs in the windows “it looks like Hebrew letters” he said.

Next we went to see the stained glass in the Bobrow Chapel. “I see arches” said Ari upon seeing a different shape of window. “It looks like a Torah” said Ella looking carefully at the pictures in the glass.

Back in the classroom some of the children sat down to draw. “I’m making a stained glass window. See the colors and the arch?” asked Ella as she worked. This led to everyone creating their own stained glass work out of colored tissue paper. “It’s like Chagal” said Simon, “he broke his art and put it back together like a puzzle.”

GEORGIA O'KEEFE: To learn about artist Georgia O’Keefe, we watched a few short videos on YouTube and then read the book My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter. The children discovered many things about Georgia such as “she liked to paint things up close” (Ari), “She even liked to paint animal bones “(Asher A) and (Eli) “she went to (New) Mexico”. The children then tried painting something up close from nature just like Georgia O’Keefe did. They painted their own sunflowers.

JACKSON POLLACK: Jackson Pollack was next! “He shaked the paint” said Simon when asked what he learned about this American artist. “And he taps on the paintbrush” added Rose.

Of course we had to try out his splatter painting technique for ourselves. “It splashed all over the place” exclaimed Ben as he worked.

There are many more artist for us to explore such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Van Gogh. We look forward to continuing our investigation and learning and painting so much more together.

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