Friday, July 25, 2014

Paul Cezanne lesson

(older class)
So what originally was going to be frescos with Da Vinci and Michelangelo changed to watercolor landscapes with Winslow Homer. But then I realized his style of American Realism was so similar to what we'd just studied the day before with Edward Hopper, that I had to make another switch, and ended up with Paul Cezanne. After all, according to Picasso and Matisse it all began with Cezanne, so why not end back at the beginning?

We started out reading a quick book on Cezanne's style that had great quotes from him such as, "I want to astonish Paris with an apple," and "...depict nature using cylinders, spheres, cones..." I love that first one. What a random ambition! After talking a bit about seeing shapes in everything and what shapes they are, we moved on to perspective. I had given everyone an empty tin can and I had them draw it quickly three times. Once from straight on, once from an angle looking into it, and once looking straight into it. We talked about how funny it is that the same can looks so different from three different angles and how your perspective changes how things are going to look, which is why Cezanne spent so long walking around his still lifes to really understand the apples and which perspective(s) he wanted to depict. In fact, Cezanne was the one who started painting from multiple perspectives at the same time so as to give a better understanding of the subject. The Cubists took that idea and ran with it for sure. Hence why Picasso found him so important! I demonstrated quickly on the board how to draw the table from a few different perspectives and told them in their paintings we wanted to be able to see the top of the table at an angle. What I needed to have done a better job emphasizing here was to make the table and apples fill up the page more. I did mention it but it is a hard concept for younger kids
 to hold onto. In the older class in the afternoon, I went so far as to say it had to be so big that it couldn't fit on the page.
Before we began I had them do a color spectrum moving from red to yellow with as many shades in between as possible. I challenged them to then include all those different shades in their painting, pointing out that each apple should have at least half a dozen different colors on it to make it look 3-D. The younger class had made their apples so small that they had a tougher time being able to do this, which is one of the reasons it's so important to get it big. Isn't it funny that no matter what size paper you give kids, they want to draw a tiny table right in the middle? Oh and before they began painting we watched this short slide show: of Cezanne's still lifes, and I encouraged them to look for qualities in his work that they could try to use in their own. Turned out pretty nice, eh:
(younger class)

(older class)

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