Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up.....Impressions of Success

Yeah, I was trying to do something snazzy with the title. Surely there is a way to combine "French Impressionism" and "success" in a hip-hoppining duo?

That's all right; though I have fallen short in my lingo, we have excelled in our art this week. Check out these beauties---

I might just sprain my elbow from patting myself on the back. (And then, how will I pick up my hot chocolate? Quel horreur!)

We've spent these past two weeks studying France (with a spattering of Spain, because Sweetling, who is learning Spanish, really wanted to do Spain.)

Part of our study of France included French Impressionism, which HAD to be part of France, because its my favorite genre. We skimmed through the book Impressionism by Judy Martin, which meant that we spent some time looking at the photos while Mommy dialogued about the progression of art into Impressionism. The book was very nicely arranged with several good color photos of paintings on each page, but the few paragraphs of text on the page wouldn't have held Toa's attention, so we summed it up.

The second book we used to study French Impressionism was Monet's Impressions which pared Monet's painting with his own words, which were arranged in a poem, with each turn of the page revealing a new masterpiece and a few words of text. The book opens with the words, "I paint like a bird sings." The rest of the book flowed gracefully from this lovely image. (In case you can't tell, I really, really liked this book and highly recommend it.)

Here's where the flash of genius comes into the tale. The Jedi's birth mom is a wonderful artist. For Christmas two years ago, she gave me this beautiful painting of French lavender fields. All around her house, she has art. So, I thought for Christmas this year, we should give her some art from us. I sold the kids on the idea of each of them doing two 5x7 pieces which would be put together in a grouping to make a whole. The effect would be sort of that of looking out a 4 paned window on a lovely landscape. Both kids thought this was a wonderful idea.

As we were reading Monet's Impressions, we came across his painting of Poppy Fields Near Argenteuil. That, we decided, would be wonderful inspiration for Grandma M's present. I used black yarn to section the photo into four squares, wrapping the yarn around the edge of the book and taping it to the plastic jacket, so as to not mark or damage a library book.

Then we had to decide on what sort of paper to use. I suggested a light blue paper, thinking that the color of the paper would blend into any space left between the small, dabbing strokes needed to replicate an Impressionist painting. Toa was keen to go with light blue, but Sweetling insisted on using white, since we had previously read that the Impressionist primed their canvas with white for brighter, more brilliant colors. In the end, it was decided that Toa would use light blue, and Sweetling would use white. To keep the piece balanced (rather than a white half and a blue half), I had the kids pick opposing corners to work from. Sweetling went with the upper-left and lower-right corners, and Toa worked on the lower-left and upper-right corner.

I got out my 64 soft chalk pastels (again, one of the best $15 I have ever invested in art supplies). And I gave them each a small piece of paper to practice the technique of small 'dabbing' strokes. I sliced Toa's paper for him, and then gave Sweetling a piece of white 12x12 cardstock, and had her use the paper cutter to measure and slice her own 5x7 pieces. (That totally justified skipping her math lesson for additional art time, right?)

I used small rolls of tape under the four corners of their paper to hold their paper to the table, otherwise they were constantly blurring and smudging the pastels trying to hold their paper while they worked. I also gave them each a baby wipe and a paper towel to wipe their fingers on periodically as they worked, again, trying to eliminate smudging and smearing. 

They got to work, under admonitions to take their time, that this would not be a quick project and would probably take us several days. They sounded like a pair of little woodpeckers tap tap tapping their chalk pastels on their paper. With art in slow progress, I warned them again to be slow and patient, and then I hopped in the shower. The little woodpeckers were still tap tap tapping at the kitchen table when I got out of the shower. I checked their progress, and busied myself with laundry.

All told, the little woodpeckers tapped away for nearly 45 minutes before they each had one of their two corners finished. I gave their efforts the praised it desired, for here were the results from the first day.

The next day, we spent the morning playing a geography game for Europe, doing our devotions, and then both children were eager to do more art. So the second half of the project was launched. I was especially impressed with Sweetling's perseverance. Her first couple of attempts at the field of flowers didn't quite pull off the desired effect. I sliced her some new paper, and gave her a new practice piece and a short demo on the back of some other practice scrap. Sensing she was reaching her frustration limit and knowing that 'hovering' wasn't going to help her any, I headed out of the room. So I spent the next half hour folding laundry and listening to woodpeckers. Toa showed up a little earlier than I expected so I was a little concerned about how carefully he had actually been. And, knowing how Sweetling had been struggling, I was more than a little worried about what her final piece would look like.

But, when I went into the kitchen, I quickly discovered I had been wrong, oh so wrong, to doubt what they were producing.

We were all so pleased with the results, that a special trip was made to go buy frames that very same day. I love how each piece is an artwork in and of itself, and yet how they all also go together. Sadly, I don't think my camera work captures the depth of colors. Toa's clouds, for example, look almost three dimensional. Mama thought we had used something textured to produce some layering they have so much depth. Similarly, Sweetling's flowers, with a blue dressed woman, has a lot more depth than the screen image captures.

Another huge success for us was making recipes out of Cooking the French Way. Cooking the Norwegian Way was a bust, but we've found some new favorite dishes in this book, especially the ham and broccoli crepes with Monray sauce. The kids are requesting that that becomes a regular lunch staple.

Check out what others have done this week on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Au revoir!


wdworkman said...

Wonderful art! Great book ideas too. I'll have to remember to revisit Impressionism when we cover Europe & France next year.
Janet W

Anonymous said...

What BEAUTIFUL paintings! Such a GREAT job! (We're studying Monet in the coming week.)

Anonymous said...

Oops! I forgot to leave my name. LOL

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