Thursday, May 29, 2008

Create Your Own Rothko Masterpiece

You learned about Mark Rothko’s color field paintings yesterday. Today, make your own color field masterpiece like Rothko.

Supplies Needed:

White Paper
Tissue Paper in assorted colors
White Glue
Paint Brush

Decide on an emotion you’d like to create. Maybe angry, maybe serene. Maybe you want to show love or hate or jealousy. Choose tissue paper in colors that look like the emotion you chose. For instance, if I wanted to create serene I might use turquoise, green, and cobalt blue.

Cut rectangles of tissue paper. You can layer the tissue paper on top of itself to make deep colors, or use just one layer if you wish to see the white paper through the tissue paper. Arrange your colored rectangles on the white paper.

Finally, brush a thin layer of white glue onto your white paper and apply the tissue paper.

Let dry, hang, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy your weekend. Check back next week for more color field artists.

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Mark Rothko

The first color field painter I’ll post about is Mark Rothko. Rothko did not begin as a color field painter but he his best known for the paintings he did in this style.

Rothko was born in Russia in 1903. He and his family moved to Oregon when he was 10 years old. They struggled for money. Rothko did well in school and earned a scholarship to Yale University. He thought he would become an engineer or an attorney—careers at which he would make some money. In 1923, his second year of college, Rothko left Yale.

He moved to New York City and became involved with some artists. He began taking classes at the New School of Design. Arshile Gorky, whom I wrote about earlier, was one of Rothko’s teachers.

Rothko’s early paintings were somewhat realistic. They showed some recognizable objects such as people, buildings, and landscapes. (For an example click here.)

In the 1940s Rothko became interested in using mythology in his paintings. He thought he could best paint emotion by showing known creatures from myths. These mythological paintings were similar in style to Surrealist paintings. (For example: The Syrian Bull.) It didn’t take long for Rothko to decide that mythology was outdated. He began to believe that too many artists had already used myths in their paintings. He was also convinced that painting myths wasn’t the best way to show emotion in his art.

Mark Rothko’s art became more abstract at the end of the 1940s. He decided that simple shapes were the best for showing complicated feelings. The large, simple shapes allow you to feel instead of think when you look at Rothko’s paintings. (Examples: here, here.)

His later paintings, those from 1948 and later, show only two, three, or four rectangles lined up one of top of the other (vertically). He painted these color field paintings on huge canvases because he wanted the viewer to get lost in the painting. He didn’t want you to stand back from his paintings and look on. He wanted you, instead, to stand close and become a part of the artwork. He wanted you to feel the emotion he had painted. (For images click here, here.)

Beginning in the late 1950s, Rothko used much darker colors. He overlapped colors until the canvas was covered with deep reds, blues, blacks. He was painting sadder, angrier moods than before. (For images click here, here.)

Rothko died in 1970.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Color Field Painting

My trip to Massachusetts was a lot of fun but tiring. I got a sore throat on the way home and by this morning it was killer. I'm feeling much better tonight, though! I hope you all had a good weekend, too.

Today, I thought I’d say something about color field painting. I plan to post about some color field painters this week.

Color field painting is a type of abstract expressionism that began in the U.S. in the 1950s. Color field artists did not paint recognizable objects. Like some other abstract artists you've read about, they were trying to paint emotion onto canvas. Color field painters also aimed to create more organized, rational, and ordered art. They did this by painting large canvases with solid, geometrical shapes of bright color.

There were, of course, color field painters who didn’t use geometrical shapes. There were also those who painted vibrant shapes but who, instead of filling them in with solid colors, used many colors to outline them. There are always exceptions to rules, especially in the art world. Once you’ve learned about some of these artists it will be clear to you what links them together under the style of color field painting.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Create Your Own Jacob Lawrence Inspired Series

On Friday you learned that Jacob Lawrence told stories by creating series of paintings. He illustrated one scene of the story at a time until it was complete. Lawrence was careful to use the same colors in each painting of a series. He did this by first planning each painting. Then he filled the colors in one at a time. For instance, he would paint all the red parts of the paintings, then all the yellow, then all the blue. Today, draw your own story.

Supplies Needed:

At least 5 sheets of paper

Decide the story you want to tell. It can be true, from you own life or from someone else’s, or you can make up a story.

Sketch each scene onto its own sheet of paper. Create at least 5 scenes. Jacob Lawrence’s series were much longer. His migration series was 60 scenes long!

Now color them in. You can color each picture separately or add one color at a time like Lawrence did.

Remember to number your scenes (on the back of each paper) so you can easily keep them in order.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence was born in 1917. His parents had just moved from the south to the north in a huge African-American migration that was going on at the time. The families who picked up their belongings and journeyed across the U.S. were looking for better lives. It was difficult for African-Americans to find work in the south and Lawrence’s parents hoped it would be different in the north.

The family moved around a lot and finally settled in Harlem, New York. Lawrence’s father left the young family so Lawrence lived in the apartment with his mother, brother, and sister. In Harlem, the family lived in a tall apartment building surrounded by other tall apartment buildings. Their neighbors were all African-Americans.

Lawrence did not do well in school. He was bored and frustrated that he only learned about white heroes. His mother signed him up for an after school program and the things he learned there changed his life.

At the after school program, Lawrence began to draw, color, and paint. By experimenting, Lawrence taught himself to paint. He also learned about some important black heroes, including Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas.

Lawrence’s family never had enough money and Lawrence had to drop out of school to get a job. When he was working he didn’t have time to paint but he longed to create.

When he was 21, Lawrence worked on the Easel Program which paid him to paint. During this time he began painting series. He wanted his paintings to tell a story. He painted a series which told the story of Harriet Tubman. He painted another that told Frederick Douglas’ story. He also painted a series about the African-American migration which his parents took part in. Click here to see some of the panels from the migration series. Lawrence’s series brought him fame. Suddenly painting paid the bills and more.

Lawrence created paintings about everything he saw. He served in the Navy during World War II and painted images of daily life. When he checked himself into a mental institution he painted pictures of other patients.

In his old age, Lawrence moved to Seattle and taught art classes. When he wasn’t teaching he loved to paint pictures of the workers construction buildings. He stayed in Seattle until he died in 2000.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dubuffet and Art Brut

Jean Dubuffet, born in 1901 was a well-known and well-liked French painter and sculptor. Throughout his early life, Dubuffet had doubts about how valuable art really was. He ran the family wine business until he took up art full time in 1942.

In addition to painting and sculpting, Dubuffet helped show the art of the insane to the world. He even came up with the term “art brut.” It means “raw art.” What Dubuffet meant by art brut was art that came from inside the artist and was not influenced by what other people thought. This was true of the art of the insane.

As Dubuffet traveled and met artists, he discovered that others (who were not insane) could create raw art as well. People who didn’t fit into society could create art that was free of society’s influence. Dubuffet began to use the term “art brut” to talk about any art, whether the artist was sane or insane, that was created without the influence of society.

Dubuffet began to collect art brut works and eventually put them on display. The collection grew and traveled from Europe to the U.S. and back again. As Dubuffet became a well-known and somewhat wealthy artist, he hired about 100 people to find and collect art brut works.

Finally, in 1976, Dubuffet’s collection found a permanent home in Switzerland at the Chateau de Beaulieu. The space was once used for studying the behavior of the mentally ill but now houses the huge collection of art brut works.

I'm off to Massachusetts this weekend but I've already set up post for through Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adolf Wolfli

Yesterday I told you about art brut. Today, read about one important art brut artist, Adolf Wolfli.
Adolf Wolfli had a rough childhood. He was an orphan and very poor. He was not always treated well by the adults who passed through his life.

When he was 31, in 1895, Wolfli was admitted to the Waldau clinic near Bern, Switzerland. He remained there for the rest of his life.
Wolfli began to draw and soon the activity took up most of his time. He would wear a pencil down to nothing in only a week and he had to collect used packing paper on which to create his drawings. He never had enough materials.

Wolfli created tons of artwork. Between 1908 and 1930 he wrote his life story as he wished it to be. He illustrated it with images that often included music (see below). The 45 books that made up the story totaled 25,000 pages!
As you can see in the pictures shown here, Wolfli’s drawings were very ordered. They often had borders and connecting circles or ovals, and they usually contained geometric shapes and music notes. Wolfli began his drawings at the edge of the paper and worked his way inward. The drawings aren’t symmetrical but upon first glance may appear to be. Notice the faces that appear in all the drawings shown here.
In 1921 Dr. Walter Morganthaler wrote a book about Wolfli and his art. It was the first major book about a mentally ill artist and it increased Wolfli’s growing fame. Visitors began to show up at the hospital to meet the artist. They bought his drawings and some brought him supplies so he could continue drawing.

Wolfli drew steadily until he died in 1930.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Art Brut: An Introduction

The term “art brut” means “raw art.” It is used to describe art created by talented artists living outside of society. Art brut is the art of the insane. The name didn’t come about until the mid-1940s and it was soon used to refer to other forms of outsider art. But that’s a topic for another day.

Until the mid-1800s no one paid attention to the artwork created by mental patients. Psychiatrists such as Dr. Paul Gaston Meunier, Dr. Auguste Marie, and Dr. Charles Ladame changed this. They began to collect the artwork because they thought it could help grant new information about the minds of their patients.
In the 1920s, as you know, abstract art movements were forming and gaining popularity. Artists like Wassily Kandinsky were creating art without recognizable subjects. Their art was based on feeling. They tried to paint emotions onto canvas and people accepted the art that was created.

The idea of putting pencil or pen or brush to paper and letting it wander with the mind made people look differently at the art of the insane. Those doodles and scribbles no longer seemed so silly.
As it turned out, the insane created more than just doodles and scribbles. Some created very realistic sketches of life. Others carved abstract sculptures. Some created ordered, patterned drawings, filled with every imaginable color. Just like the work of mentally healthy artists, the artwork of the insane varied in style and could be seen as strange or disturbing or even beautiful.

In 1922, Dr. Hans Prinzhorn published a book on the art of the insane. He also set up a gallery of artwork he had collected. The book and the gallery made people aware of the art made by the mentally ill. And the most interesting thing—the artwork influenced “normal” artists! The Surrealists were especially inspired.
Look at the pictures I’ve included. (The first was painted by Adolf Wolfli, the second by Franz Karl Buhler, and the third by August Natterer.) Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Adolf Wolfli, a mentally ill artist who is remembered today by many as a creative genius.

Thanks to BeverlyKayeGallery for suggesting this topic. I’m having a great time researching it and look forward to the next week or so of posts! Click over to the BeverlyKayeGallery blog to learn more about art brut and outsider art.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum

Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser have created a gorgeous picture book: You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum. Wordlessly the author and illustrator show the frenzied chase of a security guard through New York City as he tries to snag a run-away balloon. Inside the museum, a girl enjoys the artwork, unaware of the adventure her balloon is experiencing.

I love the way Weitzman and Glasser use famous works of art to punctuate the action happening in the city. The book doesn’t try to teach you about art or about New York City. Instead, it gives you a glimpse of both and lets you draw your own conclusions.

There are two other books in this series which may interest you. You Can’t Take a Balloon into the National Gallery follows a balloon’s travels through Washington, D.C., and You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Museum of Fine Arts is an adventure through Boston, Massachusetts. All three books feature beautiful pen-and-ink drawings with punches of color.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tempera Paint

Tempera is a type of paint made using egg yolk. It is still used today by some artists but it was very popular in ancient Egypt as well as during the Italian Renaissance. To make the paint, an artist ground minerals into powder. He separated the yolk (the yellow part of the egg) from the white. Then the artist mixed the yolk with the colored powder until he like the color and thickness of his paint.

Egg yolk dries quickly and forms a hard coat. Once dry, yolk is difficult to remove. (Try scrubbing dried egg out of a bowl…) Because of this, paintings made with tempera last a long time. The Fayum Portraits of ancient Egypt have lasted more than 2000 years!

You can make your own tempera! Be sure to have an adult help you with this one. Do not make the tempera until you are ready to paint with it.

Supplies Needed:

Pencil sharpener
Empty egg carton

Sharpen a piece of chalk with your pencil sharpener. Empty the shavings into one of the egg carton cups. Repeat for each color you wish to create.

Separate the egg yolk from the egg white. You will only need the yolk. Mix the egg yolk with about three teaspoons of water.

Stir a small amount of the yolk mixture into each cup. Your paint should be a little runny. Be sure to stir until the paint is smooth.

You are now ready to create your masterpiece! Be aware that tempera paint dries fast. If the paint sits in the cups for too long, you’ll have to add a little more water to prevent it from thickening.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Create Your Own Gorky Painting

Yesterday you learned about Arshile Gorky and you looked at some of his paintings. Today, create your own loopy, colorful painting (or drawing).

Supplies Needed:

Heavy sketch paper
Paint brush

This is a simple project but the results are beautiful. Sketch some free-form loops across your paper. You can draw an object or a person, or just let your pencil swirl across the page.
When you’re pleased with your creation, fill in the loops with color. I outlined some parts of my painting in black. You can trace over your lines if you choose, or just let the colors show where the lines were.
Remember to sign your name on your masterpiece!

Younger kids can enjoy this project, too. Paints can be tough to control and they can be messy. Younger kids should use crayons instead. And feel free to use plain copy paper with crayons. The heavier paper is only needed to soak up the moisture of paint.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Arshile Gorky

When I was at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York this weekend, I had the great pleasure of seeing several paintings by Arshile Gorky. It’s possible that I’ve seen paintings by him before but this time they really spoke to me. I love the way the shapes flow into each other and I love the colors. I love all the strange pictures that appear in Gorky’s paintings if you free your mind and just look. I knew I had to share this great artist with you.

Gorky was born in Armenia around 1904. In 1915 Gorky and his family fled Armenia but it was a difficult journey and his mother died. Gorky moved to the United States in 1920. For most of his life he missed his home country. He never stopped thinking about his mother.

Gorky learned art by studying the works of other artists. He studied the Impressionists, then the Cubists, and finally the Surrealists as he developed his own style. He studied art formally at the New School of Design in Boston, Massachusetts.

Gorky began by painting somewhat realistic scenes, like the Impressionists. One example is The Artist and His Mother.

Paintings like Organization show how Cubism influenced Gorky’s style.

He is most important, however, for his influence on later artists. By the end of his life, his paintings consisted of rounded, free-form shapes. Garden in Sochi is one example, Golden Brown is another. The style of these later paintings became known as Abstract Expressionism. Gorky’s personal style influenced many other Abstract Expressionists.

Gorky died in 1948.

Check back tomorrow to create your own Gorky painting.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I have mentioned before that many artists from the late-1800s were inspired by Japanese art. The influence of Japanese art on European and American art is called Japonism. I thought I’d tell you a bit more about it toady.

For a long time, Japan didn’t trade with Europe or America. They didn’t buy or sell food, fabrics, or anything else, including works of art. In the mid-1800s things changed in Japan. A new government came into power which allowed western ships into the country. And in 1868 Japanese ships began to take goods to Europe and America.

During this time, artists especially in France wanted to break away from traditional styles of art. When they saw Japanese art, many artists were struck by the bright colors, off-centered placement of subjects, and curved lines. Japanese artists cared about creating beautiful art that brought out emotion in the viewer. They did not care as much about creating realistic scenes.

Notice the curving lines of Gustav Klimt's Tree of Life.

Also notice the curved lines and the off-centered subject of Aubrey Beardsley's
Sometimes artists even included Japanese artworks into their own paintings. One example, shown below, is Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Pere Tanguy.

Other artists who where inspired by Japanese art include Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

New York

I had a great time in New York City this weekend. The trip was tiring so I went straight to sleep when I got home last night. I had planned to post photos of some of the art I saw at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I bet you'll be able to name that artist on your own...

In order: Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh

That final photo is a close-up of the corner of van Gogh's Starry Night. I noticed something about this painting and a few other van Gogh paintings that I had never noticed before. Look at the edge where the canvas meets the frame. The paint doesn't cover every inch of the canvas. And there are blank patches throughout the paintings. Weird. I had always thought that van Gogh layered the paint but obviously he did not.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Create Your Own Cassatt-Inspired Portrait

Mary Cassatt became famous for her paintings of family life. She focused on women and children. What better Mother’s Day gift than a hand-drawn portrait of you and your mom, inspired by Mary Cassatt?

Supplies Needed:

Sheet of white paper (use heavy sketch paper if you use pastels)
Pastels or Crayons
Pencil with eraser
Plastic page protector
Construction paper
Glue stick

Begin by choosing a scene. Do you want to draw your mom playing with you in the park? Helping you with your homework? Maybe you and your mom went apple picking last fall. Or maybe you’ve been helping her tend the garden. If you need help deciding on a subject, have another adult help you choose a photograph to inspire you.

Gather your materials and begin sketching. If you have pastels, use them to color in your picture. Be careful with pastels because they smear. You can use this to your advantage by blending colors with a tissue. However, if your hand wipes across your picture you will have a bit of a mess. If you don’t have pastels or don’t wish to use them, crayons will do just fine. Don’t forget to sign your name!

When your drawing is perfect and colored in, slide it into a plastic page protector.

Now you can cut a paper frame out of construction paper and use a glue stick to attach it to the page protector.

When you give your mom her gift, tell her that you got your inspiration from Mary Cassatt. She will be very impressed!

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mary Cassatt

In celebration of Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11), I thought I would tell you about a female American Impressionist who is known for her paintings of family life: Mary Cassatt.

Cassatt was an extraordinary woman. Born in 1844, she painted in a time when there were very few professional women painters. In fact, she worked in a time when women of wealthy families usually did not work. Cassatt wanted to paint. She wanted to be respected and admired for her talent as an artist. And she wanted to be able to live on the money she earned painting. These goals were difficult to achieve.

Mary Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania. She began school when she was six. Her family believed that travel was important for her education and so she lived in Europe for five years when she was a child. She visited many important cities including Paris, France and London, England. Sounds like a nice way to get an education.

Cassatt studied art at the Pennsylvania academy of Fine Arts but she was not taken seriously. There were not many women at the school and those who did study were not treated equally to the men. She left the academy and moved to Paris where she hired a painter to teach her privately.

While in Paris, Cassatt went to the Louvre everyday to copy the works of the masters. You’ll remember the picture I showed you of someone painting at the great museum.

In 1868, Cassatt showed a painting at the Paris Salon. The Paris Salon was a huge exhibition of all the most impressive paintings of the day. The art was chosen by a jury (the way the contestants on American Idol are chosen). During this time, the Impressionists were struggling in Paris. The Salon did not recognize their art and did not allow them to show at the exhibition.

Her painting did not sell at the Paris Salon and Cassatt returned home to Pennsylvania. She was frustrated and worried that she would never earn a living as an artist. But she was bored at home and itched to return to Europe to view the art and to create her own. Cassatt’s big break came when the Archbishop of Pittsburgh asked her to create copies of two paintings in Italy. He paid for her travel and supplies. When the paintings were finished, he purchased those, also.

When she was Italy, she had time to create some original paintings as well. Her painting, Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival, was accepted at the 1872 Paris Salon. This painting sold! The money allowed her to travel some more before settling in France.

Cassatt continued to show at the Paris Salon when her work was accepted by the jury. As a woman, though, she was not treated fairly and could not depend on being allowed to show her art. Finally, in 1877, Cassatt joined the Impressionists. She stood out as a fine artist and became well known throughout Paris.

One Impressionist had a huge impact on her. Edgar Degas, whose ballerina sculpture you’ll remember, taught Cassatt to use pastels. She became a master pastel artist.

Cassatt showed her work with the Impressionists for more than ten years. She was part of the first Impressionist show in America. In 1886 her style grew and changed. New styles were taking shape in the art world and Cassatt went in her own direction.

It was after her years as an Impressionist that Cassatt painted the pieces she is most known for today. Her paintings of family life and the private lives of women are realistic but the scenes are tender and loving. See for yourself:

The Child's Bath

Two Children at the Seashore
Mother Combing Her Child's Hair

Cassatt became sick but didn’t stop painting until she was nearly blind. When she couldn’t paint anymore, she worked for women’s right to vote. She died in 1926.
I'm off to New York City for the weekend to visit some friends. 'Tis the season for travel, it seems (and I love it). But not to worry. Blogger has a great new feature that posts automatically! So you can look forward to a Mother's Day project tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Frida Kahlo

Yesterday I mentioned Diego Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo. For a long time she was better known as Rivera’s wife than as an artist in her own right. After her death, though, she became very well known around the world. Several movies have been made about her and many books have been written. Today, you’ll learn about Frida Kahlo, the artist.

Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907. Her life was a painful one. Even as a child she saw suffering and fighting all around her. Her parents argued a lot and were not happy together. Furthermore, the Mexican Revolution for independence from Spain began in 1910. Fighting continued for 10 years. The revolutionaries (the people fighting for Mexico) sometimes hopped the fence around Kahlo’s house and stayed for a meal and a safe night’s sleep.

It was a painful experience that led Kahlo to paint. She was studying medicine until she was in a terrible bus accident. She broke nearly every bone in her body and had stay in bed for a long time. Kahlo’s mother set up a special easel and Kahlo learned to paint. It was one of the only activities she could do from her bed. During this time she painted a lot of self-portraits. She painted more than 50 self-portraits over the course of her life. Look at this self-portrait from 1930 and this self-portrait from 1937

Kahlo was inspired by Mexican Indians, as Diego Rivera was, and she used bold colors. She painted realistic scenes but she was influenced by surrealism. For an example, look at Four Inhabitants of Mexico. Many of her paintings are quite disturbing. Because her life was painful, pain showed up in her art.

In 1929, as you know, Kahlo married Diego Rivera. Their relationship began as a friendship. Kahlo liked Rivera’s art and asked him to help her with hers. About a year later they were married.

Kahlo continued to paint until she became too sick. She created nearly 150 paintings. Frida Kahlo died in 1954.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera and his twin brother, Carlos, were born in 1886 in the mountains of Mexico. Rivera’s parents helped poor people live better lives. This helped shaped the way Rivera painted.

Rivera began to draw when he was only three years old. He drew on everything: floors, furniture, walls, and paper. He loved to draw huge pictures on walls (murals) so his parents covered his bedroom walls with paper.

When he was 10, Rivera began to use paints. He took art classes after school. It wasn’t long before he decided to become a painter.

Rivera studied art at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts where he learned about the art of the Mexican Indians. He loved their paintings of people at work and Rivera began painting similar subjects. Rivera also learned from a teacher who enjoyed painting the differences between rich people and poor people.

He then went to study in Europe, first in Spain, then Paris. He made friends with many important artists. At this time, cubism was a growing style. Rivera painted some cubist paintings (such as Portrait of Martin Luis Guzman, shown below) before moving toward a post-impressionistic style. He began to paint large, simple shapes and used bold colors. He developed his own style while he was in Paris and his paintings started to attract attention. Rivera’s paintings were very popular and sold well. Check out Flower Festival for an example. Notice the difference between that painting and the one shown below.
In 1922, Rivera married his first wife, Guadalupe Marin. She was a model and a novelist. The marriage didn’t last and in 1929 Rivera married Frida Kahlo. She was also an artist. I’ll post about her tomorrow. When Kahlo died, Rivera married a third time. His final wife was Emma Hurtado, his agent (the person who sold his paintings).

Rivera became famous for his large frescoes. He liked creating art that would be seen by many people; murals were the perfect form. He painted 27 murals for the Detroit Institute of Arts. He also painted murals in New York City, San Francisco, and Mexico.

In 1955 Rivera fell ill. He died in 1956.

Go to Olga's Gallery to view more of Rivera's paintings.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Bamiyan Cave Oil Paintings

I have already written about oil paints. You know that artists used to have to grind minerals into powder and then mix the powder with oil to make their paint. It was long believed by art historians and scholars that oil paints were not used until the 1600s. They also believed that oil paints were invented in Europe. Recently an act of terrorism allowed us to find new information about the history of oil paint.

In 2001 members of the Taliban blew up two, huge sculptures of Buddha. Behind the sculptures were paintings from the 5th to 9th centuries. The paintings had always been protected from the sun and the environment by the Buddha scultures but the attack put the paintings at risk. While trying to protect the paintings, scientists were able to study them.

Using a special type of light, scientists studied each layer of the paintings. They discovered that oil was used in paintings from the 7th century. Oil painting began in the Middle East 800 years earlier than art historians had thought!

From destruction came new knowledge. Sometimes there is a thin silver-lining.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Blogroll Update

I have added two links to my blogroll!

Check out Gifts for Kids which, just as it says, features great gift ideas for boys and girls.

Also, if you haven’t yet discovered Kids Craft Weekly, it is a terrific resource for craft ideas especially for young children. Though it isn’t exactly weekly, every issue is creative and well done.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Paul Klee

Last week I wrote about Surrealism and some of the movement’s important members. Paul Klee was a bit different from Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. Klee’s style was a blend of surrealism, cubism, and expressionism. He also loved the drawings of kids and tried to mix that energy and simplicity into his own work.

Paul Klee was born in Switzerland in 1879. When he was young he loved music and thought he might become a musician when he grew up. His grandmother gave him a box of chalk and he drew with it often. He began to love art as well. As a teenager he decided he enjoyed drawing more than playing the violin. He went to school at the Munich Academy in Germany to study his craft.

He did not think he was a very good painter and he struggled at school. Throughout his life, Klee met many great painters, including Kandinsky, and each helped him improve a little.

Klee’s early works were colorless. He created mostly pen-and-ink drawings and etchings. During this time (early 1900s) he thought that color was just decoration. He didn’t think it was essential or even needed. Then he traveled to Tunisia and saw the color and the light. He fell in love with color and his artistic style changed forever.

Click here to see the color in some of Klee’s paintings. Most of his painting were very small and used a lot of color.

During World War I, Klee painted camouflage on German planes. Following the war, he taught at the Bauhaus school then at the Dusseldorf Academy. He was targeted by the Nazis during the years leading up to World War II and he had to leave his teaching job. Seventeen of his paintings were shown in the Nazi exhibition of “degenerate art.”

When he died in 1940, Klee had painted nearly 9000 works.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm Back!

It’s been awhile! Travel doesn’t always go quite as planned. I had a great time seeing my family but the trip was tiring. I won’t bore you with the details.

Also, I promised to tell you what I was celebrating last week and, now that it’s official, I will. I was accepted to graduate school and will finally begin studying to teach elementary education! I’ll try to keep the grad school stories to a minimum…