Art Week! Tuesday: Landscapes

TUESDAY MORNING we talked about how we see the world around us, and how artist are able to show space. We emphasized two things: Things that are closer are bigger and use bolder colors. Things that are farther away are smaller and user softer colors. (Another way of saying bolder/softer colors is to talk about the contrast of strong darks and lights, and the lesser contrast of more neutral colors. This was a bit much for my kids, so we stuck with the words bolder and softer.)

I sketched a quick landscape with a large house colored with red and green and black door. In the distance there is a small house colored with the same colors, but lightly. This quick drawing made the idea super-easy for them to understand.

Then I drew a landscape with four hills and showed how things can get gradually smaller. I got this idea from Art Projects for Kids also. I helped the girls each draw four lines on their paper and then encouraged them to draw a house and tree on each line getting gradually smaller. They added more details as well, like cars and people, and tree swings, and they thought the challenge to make it smaller each time was hilarious. So much so that they both added a fifth line on which the house was just a tiny dot.

When it was time to color we used a lot of greens on scratch paper to find just the right way to use them to make our greens go from bold to soft gradually. Once we had that figured out, we laid them on the paper in order and colored the grass pretty systematically moving from close to far. I oversaw this somewhat strictly, which they didn't seem to mind because it felt like a science experiment. I was a little less strict about their coloring of the houses and peoples and trees, but encouraged them to make each one a little bit lighter than the last.

This project was surprisingly fun perhaps because of how structured it was. The girls were excited about making their smoke smaller and smaller, and the illusion of space made it seem to be rising very high in the sky.

I think I'm the naked woman in the picture on the left.

When we finished we spent some time looking through some of the art books I had on the floor for landscapes. We tried to find examples of things getting smaller and softer as they moved farther away, and we weren't disappointed. We were also able to notice a lot of the textures we talked about yesterday, and we talked briefly about how things closer have more texture than things far away. [A note about the Old Masters:  we noticed differences in certain styles, such as how the expressionists use lots of bold color everywhere and have thicker marks, but we didn't talk about what Expressionism is. The goal was just to enjoy looking at art, to notice differences, and to understand the techniques of perspective that they all employ. I feel that this will set the stage for a desire to learn more about Art History later, and build a general love of art and looking now.]

L especially liked the landscape by Gainsborough shown above because the sheep in the distance were very small. She spent her free time drawing her own landscape with sheep (and mountains and the ocean), and when she was finished she painted another version of it.

I had intended to also do some indoor perspective projects, but the landscapes took up the whole morning. If you'd like to do that, here are some good projects from Dawn's Brain and Kids Artists.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON was quite fun. We waited until the afternoon to do our outdoor painting because it was cold. Then it ended up raining, but we were still able to go out onto our covered porch and paint the landscape. Pay attention to the weather and go outside when its not too cold, not too sunny, not too rainy.

To go outside, I used painters tape to mount watercolor paper on boards. I happened to already have a lot of these 12" x 12" boards around because I'm a painter, but use what you have. If you have a large board you can tape several small pieces of paper to it. This gives you a hard surface to work on wherever you are, and helps the painting dry flat. Its helpful to have at least two paintings per person because you can set one aside to dry and work on the other one, switching periodically. Allowing drying time is essential for working with watercolors (and one of the hardest parts for children!).

Since we were on the porch we set up dining chairs and little tables to hold all of our supplies. We painted until it got dark. I'd love to tell you our view was amazing, but my husband is in the middle of some big landscaping projects, so mostly we were looking at a giant pile of dirt dumped in the yard a few days earlier. Still we have a long driveway behind it that gave us some nice opportunities for perspective. I think their excitement about being outside distracted them from thinking about perspective very much, and so they didn't end up doing a lot of that. The girls both really wanted to paint the house and so they were disappointed we were sitting on the porch so that the house was not in our landscape. I asked them to make their first painting of the landscape they could see, and then they could do whatever they wanted for the rest. Again, I wanted them to think about the lesson, but I also wanted them to enjoy it, so I didn't push them too hard on this.

I did a little painting, too. 
And here's some of the paintings:

L's  tree and an imagined house, and the trees along our driveway.

J's pile of dirt and our driveway. 

I painted John's chicken coop. 

I noticed both girls made the ground flat even though our driveway goes up a hill. And they each colored the sky as a block, instead of a background behind the trees. I didn't correct any of these, but it was interesting to see, and remember for next time. They had such a great time, I think this will be something we repeat, and each time, we can build a little on what we've learned about perspective, and address things like the sky and horizon. This felt like a good foundation for painting in nature with the kids, and I'm excited to build on it in the future.

Keep up with the rest of Art Week here:
Get Ready
Monday: Experimenting with Materials and Textures
Tuesday: Landscapes and Space
Wednesday: People and Portraits
Thursday: Storytelling and Comic Books
Friday: The Exhibit

1 comment:

Martha said...

I really enjoy seeing the girls drawings with the houses getting smaller in the distance. And that naked woman!!! Ha. I used to use masonite in college, wonder what happened to it? I should get some for that very purpose, and draw more, with my girls. Your chicken coop painting is lovely!