Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wassily Kandinsky

As we end 2009 and start thinking about a new year, I wanted to introduce you to an artist that paints in an abstract style. His name is Wassily Kandinsky and he was a Russian painter born on December 4, 1866 in Moscow. His paintings just make me feel good when I look at them. I love the colors most. Take a look at some of my favorites and see if you would like to paint some similar compositions.

Kandinsky wanted viewers (of his paintings) to get the same emotional power from his compositions that one gets from listening to musical compositions. He felt music allowed the listener freedom of imagination and interpretation. He wanted to express his emotional perceptions with color and form in his paintings the way music expresses itself through sound and time. This led to the development of his abstract style of painting.

Kandinsky loved music, especially classical music and Wagner's “Lohengrin” (German opera) stirred him so much that he decided to devote his life to art, convinced of the emotional powers of music. He was one of the first modern artists who painted abstract shapes to express his feelings. He would listen to music and try to paint what the music made him feel. He wanted to paint the musical notes as if they were colors instead of sounds.

You can create a painting using this same method Kandinsky used. Gather your paints, brushes, water, containers, paper, paint shirt, and desk cover. Listen to some music (either classical or some you like) and close your eyes. Think about the way the music makes you feel. With your eyes still closed, imagine the sounds of the music as colors and shapes. What colors are you seeing? Are the colors bright or dark? Do the shapes have straight lines or are they soft and wavy? Open your eyes and try to paint what you saw in your mind.

Monday, November 30, 2009

René Magritte

I love the art work by René Magritte and wanted you to see some of my favorite pieces.

He often played with the positve and negative space in his compositions.

René Magritte was born on November 21, 1898.
He was a Belgian surrealist artist. Surrealism was a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and the art work featured unexpected juxtapositions and the element of surprise.

This one makes me laugh.
He died on August 15, 1967 after creating many "dream-like" paintings.
Do you see a recurring theme or an idea used more than once in his work?

I think this is my favorite. I hope you like his art work as much as I do.
Why don't you try your hand at making a surrealistic drawing? Here is a helpful hint to get you brainstorming. If ________ were __________. Think of something crazy like "if mice were hair" or "caterpillars were toothpaste."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti (pronounced "jocko-metty") is the artist I have chosen for our October artist. He was born October 10, 1901 in an Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. He came from an artistic background. His father was a well known painter from the Post-Impressionist period. Alberto was the oldest of four children. He was especially close to his younger brother, Diego. From the age of 14, he made many portrait busts using Diego as his model - a bust is a sculpture of a person's head and shoulders. So you see from the beginning, he was interested in art.
The image you see above is from the archives of LIFE magazine, which first appeared on January 1, 1966. It shows Giacometti with several of his sculptures.

He was a Swiss painter, draftsman, printmaker, and sculptor. I think I like his Surrealistic sculptures the best. He is famous for his elongated human forms. Since we have been studying 3D in both 4th and 5th grades, I thought you might like to see some of his sculptures.

Man Striding

Three Men Walking II

Nose 1947


In Bust de Diego (below), Giacometti shows his brother (who was not only his friend but also his assistant and critic). He shaped clay to make the figure and later cast the form in bronze.

He died January 11, 1966 at the age of 64, but left many wonderful art pieces behind for all of us to enjoy today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson was born on September 23, 1900 in Kiev, Russia. Her family moved to the United States when she was very young. Louise grew up in Rockland, Maine and spent most of her younger years there. She married Charles Nevelson after she graduated from high school in 1918. She studied art during the years of her marriage, but this met with disapproval by her husband. After her divorce in 1931, she really began to study and create art.

Her sculptures were first shown in the 1930s. She is associated with several art periods, but became well known after embracing Abstract Expressionism. Louise began creating large, predominantly wooden "found object" pieces or assemblages typically painted jet black. Later she painted some in white and some in gold. Louise loved to use found objects or things that others threw away in her sculptures. She died on April 17, 1988 in New York City, New York where she had spent most of her adult life.

Look at the sculptures below by Louise Nevelson and see if you think you could find some found objects or recycle some materials to create your own relief sculpture or free standing one.

Mrs. N's Place

Night Leaf

Sky Cathedral

City on the High Mountain

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hale Woodruff

Hale Aspacio Woodruff was born on August 26, 1900, in Cairo, Illinois so he is one of our American born artists. I picked Woodruff as our artist for August because I just loved the painting below. It is called "Poor Man's Cotton."

Hale Woodruff was an African American artist known for his murals, paintings, and prints. He moved to and grew up in Nashville Tennessee. While in high school Hale was the cartoonist for the school newspaper.

After his art training he contributed to the development of African American art as an artist and a distinguished art educator. He was a leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance (an African American cultural movement of the 1920s and early 1930s that was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City).

He died September, 1980 in New York City. His art work depicted his heritage. When painting, he used an abstract style and his prints were often made from woodcuts. Below is an example of one of his prints. This print is called "Returning Home."

Why don't you create a picture called "Returning Home?" You can do it in color or black and white and use your favorite art tools and materials.

Friday, July 31, 2009


There are so many visual artists who have their birthdays in July; it is always difficult to pick just one for you to investigate. I think Rembrandt is who I will highlight this year.

Rembrandt van Rijn was born on July 15, 1606 in Leiden, Netherlands. He died on October 4, 1669 at the age of 63. He was a Dutch painter and etcher (that’s a special kind of printmaker). He is considered the most important painter and printmaker in Dutch history. Let me show you some examples of his work.

The Night Watch is one of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings because it is very large (11’ 10” X 14’ 4”), shows the perception of motion and the use of light and shadow. Let me introduce to an art term: chi•a•ro•scu•ro (kee-ahr-uh-skyoor-oh). This is the use of light and shade to show feelings or share drama. Rembrandt was a master of chiaroscuro.

He also did self-portraits every so many years during his life. I picked out three for you to study.



If you want to learn more about Rembrandt van Rijn and create your own self-portrait click on the following and read the information provided.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maurits Cornelis Escher

Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands on June 17, 1898. He is one of the world's most famous graphic artists. M. C. Escher is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. The reason I chose him as our June artist is because I love the impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations in his work. As a printmaker he combined his love of art and mathematics in his work. His art is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, and I am one of them.

Click on his name below to learn more about the man and his art.
M. C. Escher

Click on the word tessellation to reach several more sites about Escher.

Some of my favorite Escher works are below:
Ascending and Descending

Sky and Water I

Drawing Hands


Do you have a favorite? Can you try and make a tessellation and create an M. C. Escher type design?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Henri Rousseau

Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised)
Henri Rousseau was a French artist born in 1844 and died in 1910.
He was self taught and often painted jungle scenes and animals.
His paintings were almost always bright and colorful.
In order to learn more about Henri Rousseau click on the title of the tiger painting above. You can also get some great ideas for “Rousseau” inspired art projects that you can do over summer break. You can see many of his paintings too.

This is a picture of a "Rousseau" inspired jungle scene I created. What do you think of it? Do I have a foreground, middleground, background, and sky? Did I show lots of different values of green?

You can create a jungle scene too! Click on the word "JUNGLE" to go to the National Gallery website to start your scene.
You must have Adobe Shockwave to create your own.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 and died on May 2, 1519. He was a great Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, inventor, and scientist. He is my chosen artist for April. If you want to explore more, click on Leonardo da Vinci.

Also click on Mona Lisa to really play with her face and warp it into a really wierd looking Mona.

If you check out my older post from 2008 you can do a timed Mona Lisa puzzle too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian was a Dutch artist who was born March 7, 1872. He died Feb. 1, 1944. He is most famous for his non-representational paintings. Learn more about one by watching this short video.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Norman Rockwell

The artist I want you to learn more about for February is Norman Rockwell, an American illustrator and artist. He was born on February 3, 1894 in his parent’s Upper West Side Manhattan apartment in New York City. I found these two videos for you to watch. They not only show you a tremendous amount of his artwork, but also give you valuable information about both the artist and the changes taking place in the United States during his lifetime.

What do you think about his artwork?
Why don't you try to make an illustration showing an activity or an event in your life that was important to you?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Claes Oldenburg

Spoonbridge and Cherry 1985-1988
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
aluminum, stainless steel, paint
354 x 618 x 162 in.

It is time for me to select an artist for January. I just love the sculptures by Claes Oldenberg. After several years of working alone, he now works with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen to create some really, really big sculptures of everyday objects.

Here is some background information on him. Claes Oldenburg was born January 28, 1929 in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of a Swedish diplomat. As a child he and his family moved to United States in 1936, first to New York then to Chicago. His nationality is Swedish-American. He is best known for his large public Pop Art sculptures.

Corridor Pin, Blue, 1999
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Stainless steel and aluminum painted with polyurethane enamel, edition 3/3;
21 ft. 3 in. x 21 ft. 2 in. x 1 ft. 4 in.

Pop Art was an art movement and style that began in England in the 1950s and then really got going in the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists focused their attention on familiar images and popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, supermarket products, famous icons, or everyday objects.

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
In July 1994, this outdoor sculpture was commissioned for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and was installed in the Kansas City Sculpture Park.

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (from the Netherlands) started working together during the 1970s. They have made more than 40 large-scale sculptures around the world. Now they live in the United States.

They take ordinary everyday objects for their sculptures but do them on a really large scale.

Center Square Plaza, Philadelphia, PA
Claes Oldenburg
1976, Cor-Ten and stainless steel
45 ft. x 12 ft. 3 in. x 4 ft. 6 in.