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Looking at Painting
Looking at Painting
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Still Life

Kentucky Educational Television
Lesson Plan
Still Life

Activity: Personal Narrative Still Life

Video: Looking at Painting, Program 1: “Realism”

Grade Level: middle school

Web Site Resources: Sheldon Tapley biography and five paintings beginning at gallery page 27

Segment: Sheldon Tapley about process (approx. 5 minutes)
Start: 30:57 “I’m making a deliberate attempt ...”
End: 35:08 “... that’s why I paint.”

Concept/Objectives:
Students will:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of still life as subject matter. (AH-M-4.1.39)
  2. demonstrate an understanding of a personal narrative as a purpose for creating art. (AH-M-4.2.32)
  3. create a personal narrative still life using the elements of art and principles of design. (AH-M-4.1.41)
  4. create a still life painting using a 19th-century Realist technique. (AH-M-4.2.34)

Questions To Guide Your Instruction
Ask these questions of your students:

  1. What is a still life painting?
  2. What was the Realism movement? How does it fit into other 19th-century art movements?
  3. What was the subject matter of the Realist painters?
  4. How did the culture of the 19th century influence the artwork?

Kentucky Core Content for Assessment:
AH-M-4.1.31, AH-M-4.1.34, AH-M-4.2.33, AH-M-4.1.31, AH-M-4.2.31, AH-M-4.1.33, AH-M-4.2.32

Critical Vocabulary:
art elements: color (tint/shade), texture, space (positive and negative), value
principles of art: balance (asymmetry), emphasis, contrast, proportion, movement
Realism
Romanticism
Impressionism
middle class
personal narrative/expression
Cézanne
Corot
Courbet
Manet
Monet

Instructional Strategies and Activities
Introduce students to still life through the segment on the Looking at Painting video (Program 1, “Realism”—segment listed above). Have them discuss Tapley’s organizing of his composition and how he places the objects as well as the colors, contrasts, textures, space, and balance and the movement of the viewer’s eye through the painting.

Next, introduce Realism through examples of Corot, Courbet, and Manet reproductions. Ask students to notice the subject matter. Is it common or regal? Is there a moral to the painting, or is it simply a rendering of what the artist sees? Compare Realism to an example of Romanticism (e.g., Raspberries by William Mason Brown at the Speed Museum). Notice that the Romantic still life appears to be more like a photograph compared to a Manet example. Invite the students to speculate on why the Manet is considered to be Realism.

Discuss the purposes of art (ritual, imitative of nature, expressive, and narrative). How did the invention of photography in the 19th century affect how and why artists painted (the purpose of art)? Through this discussion, the students will be able to get a good understanding of 19th-century art movements. The discussion can easily be led into Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

Now introduce the art assignment. Students will create a personal narrative still life using objects with different textures and arrange the objects in an active composition according to the following directions:

  1. Make a list of objects you have that reflect your self-image. Mentally arrange (plan) a composition with those objects that is asymmetrically balanced. Consider both the positive and negative space of the composition. Activate or go off each edge of the page by either cropping an object or having a table or drapery go off the page.
  2. Using only pencil, arrange and draw from life the objects you reflected on in class in a sketchbook or on typing paper at home. Shade in values with your pencils. Bring these drawings to the next art class.
  3. Transfer your drawing to 12 X 18 white sulfite paper: Fold the sketch into fourths, and lightly mark the quarter divisions in pencil on the large paper. Transfer each area from your sketch to the large paper lightly. Once it has all been redrawn, shade in values with your pencils.

Have a class critique of the finished still life drawings, focusing on how effectively the students were able to use the elements of art and principles of design in their artworks.

Materials
pencils
erasers
80# white sulphite paper
typing paper for home sketches
rulers to help with grid transfer

Support/Connections/Resources
Speed Art Museum 19th-century collection
reference materials on Romanticism, Realism, and Impressionism

Supplemental Idea
Have students research Realism. Identify what influenced it and how it has influenced the art periods that have followed.

Assessment and Scoring Guide
Prompt: Realism as an art period greatly influenced subsequent 19th- and 20th-century art periods. Realists reacted against the accepted method and subject matter of their time. By representing common middle-class objects honestly with the use of heavily applied paint, Realist painters created paintings as a rendered expression. The artist’s hand was now important.

Directions:

  1. Students view Kentucky artist Sheldon Tapley’s work through the Looking at Painting video and web site.
  2. Students understand Realism and its place in art history.
  3. Students discover the purposes of art.
  4. Students select and plan compositions of personal objects that represent themselves.
  5. Students create personal narrative still life drawings.
  6. Students critique the finished drawings.
4 
  • The student completes a personal narrative still life drawing.
  • The student designs an effective drawing that clearly reflects an understanding of all of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects the student’s best effort and effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows all directions and always asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an active participant in the class critique, contributing remarks that reflect a clear understanding of the project.
 
3 
  • The student completes a personal narrative still life drawing.
  • The student designs a somewhat effective drawing that reflects an understanding of most of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects good effort and somewhat effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows most directions and usually asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is a fairly active participant in the class critique, contributing remarks that reflect a clear understanding of the project.
 
2 
  • The student completes a personal narrative still life drawing.
  • The student designs an acceptable drawing that reflects an understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects acceptable effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few key directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an acceptable participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a general understanding of the project.
 
1 
  • The student completes a personal narrative still life drawing.
  • The student designs a drawing that reflects a minimal understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects minimal effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an inadequate participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a minimal understanding of the project.
 
0 
  • The student doesn’t complete a personal narrative still life drawing.

This lesson was prepared by Cyndi Young and Franzee Dolbeare.


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