Friday, January 30, 2009

Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle

I am a big fan of Eric Carle. The illustrations in his books, made with hand-painted tissue paper, are always bright and lively. His beautifully simple stories possess depth, making them enjoyable for children and adults.

Draw Me a Star is no exception. The story begins when a young artist is asked to draw a star. The artist goes on to draw a sun and a tree, a man and a woman, until he has drawn an entire world. Finally he takes hold of a star and sails away into the heavens. This is the story of creation with an artist as the creator.

I recommend this story highly, though I should warn you that the man and woman in the story appear naked. In my opinion, it is very tasteful; however, I encourage parents to preview the book and then make your decision about whether to share the story with your children.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Create Your Own Jackson Pollock Masterpiece

I have posted before about Jackson Pollock and his drip paintings. You may remember that Pollock created his paintings by laying large pieces of canvas on the floor of his studio and dripping paint onto them. This is a messy process.

Today, make your own Jackson Pollock painting without all the mess.

Supplies Needed:

Plastic Spoon
Box Top
Cover your workspace before you begin. You’ll need a place to set your paint covered spoon and marbles. You may also want a cup of water for rinsing you spoon. Or just use a different spoon for each color paint.

Set your sheet of paper inside the box lid.

Squirt paint onto your spoon. Drop a marble into the paint on the spoon and roll it around until it is covered with paint. You may need to squirt a little more paint on top of the marble.

Drop the marble into the box lid and roll it around. You may wish to coat the marble in paint a few times before switching to the next color. Just roll it in the spoon again, then drop it back on the paper.
Rinse your spoon or use a new one. Squirt a new paint color onto your spoon and roll a clean marble in it. Drop the marble into the box lid and roll it around.

Repeat with as many colors as you want. I recommend using about five colors.
Let your painting dry. Remove it from the box lid and enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Etch A Sketch Art

More art to come, but please entertain yourselves with this fun artist. George Vlosich has created a number of masterful works of art on the Etch A Sketch! Watch this short video clip of Vlosich as he creates a portrait of President Barak Obama (about 4 minutes). Then click through a sampling of his other creations.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Suzanne Valadon

Remember when I posted about Renoir? I know, it feels like it’s been years. Anyhow, today’s artist, Suzanne Valadon, modeled for Renoir as well as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who I’ll write about in the next few days. You can see her in the painting below, Dance at Bougival by Renoir.
And below is Suzanne Valadon’s own self-portrait.
Valadon was born in 1865 in France. She began her working life differently than any other artist I’ve ever written about on this blog—when she was 15 she joined the circus! Unfortunately, though lucky for the art world, she fell from the trapeze a year later and could no longer perform in the circus.

Valadon was interested in art so she began to make friends with artists. She became a model for several of the artists she met and watched the painters work. This is how she began her training as an artist. The artists believed in her talent and helped her when they could. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec gave Valadon painting lessons. Edgar Degas, whose paintings and sculptures of ballerinas you may remember, bought some of her paintings so she could continue to create art.

Valadon held her first exhibition in 1915. Art critics liked her work and she sold many pieces. The upper class, though, was shocked by many of her paintings which showed nude women.

Valadon was an interesting woman. She spent time in the taverns with the male artists with whom she fit in well. This was not common among women in the late 1800s. She also kept a goat in her studio to eat the drawings she didn't like.

Suzanne Valadon painted in bright colors outlined in thick black. Look at the colors and lines in the landscape shown below.

Valadon died in 1938.

Suzanne Valadon’s son, Maurice Utrillo, also became a painter. I’ll post about him within the next few days as well.

I encourage you to look for more of Suzanne Valadon's paintings. Be sure to ask your parent's permission first.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Campaign Buttons

Thank you all for the well-wishes. The move is going pretty smoothly but I still have another week of work to do. I'll get back to regular posting soon. And I can't wait to catch up on reading all of your blogs!

Today Barak Obama will be sworn in as the president of the United States. Barak Obama has inspired a wide range of art that has been printed on posters, t-shirts, hats, and, of course, buttons. So what better day is there to write about presidential campaign buttons?

When George Washington was sworn in as president in 1789, he and some of his supporters wore buttons that said “G.W.” in the center and “Long Live the President” around the edge (shown below). Washington did not use these buttons to campaign, but the presidential candidates who followed him did.

The first campaign buttons were used in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was elected president over Andrew Jackson. The buttons were made of metal with words and pictures stamped into them. The buttons were hung from a cord and worn around the neck. Shown below is a button used by Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Notice the hole in the top.
In 1896 a new type of button was introduced. The words and pictures were printed on paper and then covered with a clear film called celluloid. You can see an example below from William Jennings Bryan who lost to William McKinley in 1896.
Candidates still used the metal buttons in 1896, though. Below is one of McKinley’s buttons from 1896.
Presidential candidates still use campaign buttons. Below is a button worn by Bill Clinton supporters in 1992.
And finally, below is a button worn by Barak Obama supporters.
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Friday, January 16, 2009


I apologize for the silence around here. I'm in the process of moving and it's been fairly stressful. More art soon...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Food Art

Happy Saturday! I was playing around on the internet this morning and found something you might find interesting. Go check out this awesome art made from food!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Katie Meets the Impressionists by James Mayhew

James Mayhew’s Katie Meets the Impressionists is a nice introduction to Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas for children 4 to 6 years old.

It’s Katie’s grandmother’s birthday and Katie wants to give her grandma a gift. The two visit the museum and as Katie explores, she finds the perfect thing: a lovely bouquet of flowers. Katie closes her eyes and finds herself in Monet’s The Luncheon. She paints a picture in Monet’s studio and then picks a bunch of flowers for her grandmother.

But when Katie leaves the painting, the flowers begin to wilt. She can’t give her grandmother wilting flowers! She enters Renoir’s Girl with a Watering Can and picks new flowers but she is chased from the painting, flowers scattering into the museum. Next she finds herself in Monet’s Field of Poppies, then Renoir’s Her First Evening Out, and finally Degas’ Blue Dancers, all in search of the perfect bouquet of flowers.

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Go Gators, 2008 National Champions!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the most well-known and beloved Impressionist painters. He painted Luncheon of the Boating Party (the first painting shown below), which hangs at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. He also painted Girl with a Watering Can (the second painting shown below) which can also be found here in D.C., at the National Gallery of Art, but which I remember best from the print that used to hang in my aunt’s entryway. The third painting shown below is one of Renoir’s most famous, Moulin de la Galette.
Renoir was born in 1841. His family moved to Paris when he was 3 years old. Even as a child Renoir showed a talent for art and began painting porcelain when he was 13.

He worked a few jobs but decided quickly that he wanted to be a painter. He went to school at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and studied the master paintings that hung at the Louvre Museum. He learned to paint polished, realistic paintings which he displayed at the official Salon beginning in 1864.
You may remember that artists who wanted to show their work at the Paris Salon had to send their work in to be accepted by a group of judges. The judges decided whose work was good enough to be displayed. For this reason, Renoir showed his most realistic paintings at the Salon. That was what was popular at the time.

Renoir met many of the painters who would become Impressionists. He and Claude Monet painted together several times. They would find a nice scene outside, set up their canvases, and paint quickly. They needed to capture the most important parts of the scene before the light changed. That’s why Impressionist paintings always look like they were painted quickly with fast brushstrokes and few details.

In 1870 France and Prussia went to war. Most artists of the time did not go to war, but Renoir did. When he returned, he moved into a studio in the center of Paris. He spent the next 10 years painting scenes of Paris life.
The first Impressionist exhibition opened in 1874. The Impressionist decided together which pieces would be shown. They hung the paintings at one level so each piece could be seen. They let visitors decide which paintings were the best, instead of telling them the way the Impressionists felt the Salon had. People liked the show and critics said good things about the Impressionists. Most of the paintings did not sell, though.

The Impressionists showed their work at their own exhibitions over the next few years, anyway. The style grew in popularity.

After the first exhibition, some collectors began asking Renoir to paint for them. This gave him money to continue painting in the Impressionist style. He used some of the money to travel. The collectors also helped make him even more famous.

In 1882, Renoir painted with Gauguin in the south of France. Over time Renoir split off from the other Impressionists. He did not show his work in the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886.
From 1885 and 1901, Renoir married and had three children. When his third child was born, Renoir was 60 years old. He continued to paint but many of his paintings from this time showed children and family life, like the painting shown above, Girls at the Piano.

In 1919, Renoir died. He was 78.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

United States Botanic Gardens

It's been awhile. I hope everyone's holidays were filled with family and fun. And now, on to a whole new year of art!

My friend from Florida braved the cold weather and spent New Years with me in the D.C. area. On Friday we visited the United States Botanic Gardens, a warm and lovely place that grows all kinds of plants, from cacti to pineapple plants. I wish I had discovered their lovely holiday decorations earlier. They've been taken down now so you'll have to settle for my pictures.
Many people set up minature villages around the holidays. My mom has a huge village that takes over the house. I look forward to it every year. So imagine my excitement when I saw the Botanic Garden's "village" of important D.C. buildings and monuments made entirely out of plant materials!

Above is the dome (the cupola) of the capitol building. Below is the Smithsonian castle.

Around the Christmas tree, a train wove through a D.C. neighborhood.
The Botanic Garden even housed a fairy land, complete with castle!
Now that's art!
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