Art History: Grade 2 Lesson 2
Art & Observation - Black & White in Color
- Prehistoric Art, Spanish, Grotte D'Altimira (The Altimira
Cave), Bison II
Man has always had the urge to create. Prehistoric man, faced with the hardships of mere existence painted the walls of his caves with pictures of animals he hunted. This probably gave him the feeling of magical ability to capture them
and to calm his fears. His choice of color was limited to the
colors of the earth - clay, charred wood, lime, blood.
A Girl and Her Duenna, Murillo (moo-ree-yoh) Bartolme
Esteban, Spanish (1617-1682), National Gallery of Art, Washington,
DC reproduction print.
A duenna is an elderly woman serving as governess and companion to the
younger ladies in a Spanish or a Portuguese family. We can learn about the customs, clothes and architecture of other countries by
examining paintings. The women are looking out a window. Can you guess what they are looking at? Often when we think of Spain, bullfights and fiestas with parades through the streets come to mind. Notice the dark background. How would the painting
make YOU feel if the red flower was not there?
Murillo was a Spanish Baroque artist who painted mostly religious works. He also painted pictures of everyday life (genre paintings.) In 1660 he founded an academy of painting at Seville and became its first president. He had many assistants and
followers and his naturalistic style
Continued to influence Sevillian painting throughout the 18th
Rooms by the Sea, Edward Hopper, American (1882-1967),
oil, Yale Univ. Art Gallery, new Haven, CT, reproduction print.
Edward Hopper was born in Nyack, New York, of mixed Dutch and English ancestry. He studied with Robert Henri in New York City and painted
dark-toned, moody scenes, influenced partly by Henri’s palette and by
his own solitary personality. Hopper went to Paris in 1906, but instead of
becoming associated with any movement or group, he drew and worked by himself, Impressed by the
unique light of Paris, he developed his own quietly luminous style. Upon his return to New York his slowly
maturing impressions accumulated from constant observation of
everyday sights resulted in numerous city scenes — the streets,
houses and people enveloped in a spirit of loneliness, and the canvas itself bathed with
clean, glaring light. Hopper exhibited during the
twenties and although recognition came late to him, it has
endured. His individual interpretation of life communicates a sympathetic, objective love of the
commonplace American scene.
Light plays an essential part of Hopper’s paintings. It is as fully
realized as the objects on which it falls: it reveals the color arid surfaces. Sunlight simplifies and
casts heavy somber shadows. The light and shadow defines and
models forms (not breaking up the forms as Impressionists do.) He
liked strong sunlight. Many of his titles have the word sun or
light. movement is created by light and creates composition. He
paints colors just as he sees them in nature. he uses blacks and
Beginning in 1930, Hopper also painted along the Cape Cod
shore. In 1933 he bought land and built a studio house in Truro,
where he spent almost every successive summer until his death in
Waterlilies, 1905, Claude Monet, French
(1840-1926), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2 reproduction prints.
Boats at Argenteuil, 1872, Claude Monet, French
(1840-1926), Louvre, Paris, reproduction print.
Claude Monet might be called the most important French
Impressionist. From his earliest encounters with artists, such as
Boudin, Pissarro and Jonkind, through the time of later contacts
with such influential contemporaries as Sisley and Renoir, Monet
continued to explore the optical effects of changing light and
color. Monet painted directly from the object in order to record
visual sensation more accurately. His late studies were a series
of Haystacks and Rouen Cathedrals which examine how light at
different times of the day changes the subject it
Monet's famous 'Waterlilies" in their shimmering
formlessness have recently been related to abstract art, more
specifically, Abstract Impressionism.
Monet sat and painted this scene many times. Each time he
painted it, he did so at a different time of day. the amount of
sunlight is different at noon than at 6 pm. What time of day do
you think this version was painted? Is the water really pink and
purple? The buildings are silhouetted and they are in shadow, but
Monet saw many colors in the shadows. do you see them?
There are 50+ versions of the "Waterlilies" (12' x
Color Wheel Graphic
Primary colors, Secondary colors, Complementary colors
2 Prisms - Remember to bring a Flashlight
and have someone turn out the classroom lights
Painters use color in many ways. Some colors may draw the viewer into the painting
or emphasize or show importance to particular forms. A repeated color may draw our eye around the painting or create designs, balance or rhythm. Color adds variety to a painting and it may be used in a symbolic way to express an idea or set a mood.
Color may be defined as a characteristic of light by which an area of an object can be distinguished. In talking about paintings we are usually referring to pigment color and the light
Color is pigment. Even prehistoric man used colors from the earth — yellow, ochre, and red—brown of clay, black of charred wood, white of lime. He rubbed these pigments on cave walls, then
learned to mix them with animal fat to make them permanent. There painting began.
Figment is any powder-ed substance which is mixed with a suitable liquid in which it is relatively
insoluble. The color of the pigment may come from metal oxides, animals, vegetables, earth —
and most recently synthetic chemicals.
Note the primary colors on the color wheel graphic. All other colors are created by mixing red, yellow or blue, Orange, green and purple are secondary colors. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are complementary colors and when placed side by
side, can intensify each other and vibrate. Colors next to each other make up color
families. Cool colors (blue, green, purple families) are those associated with cool things, — water, ice, shade trees. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow
group) are those associated with warm or hot things,— fire, sun.
Colors also have value which refers to their lightness or darkness; tints of higher value and shades of lower value. The intensity of a color is determined by the amount of pure pigment
not to be confused with value.
Color is light. Physicists experimenting with light in the late 1800’s developed the science of color.
Bending light rays through a prism, they demonstrated that the
visible spectrum (can
be seen by the human eye, versus infra—red, ultra—violet, etc.) is a combination of colors making white light. We observe this in nature with the rainbow.
A group of painters, called the Impressionists, like the scientists of their day, also did some speculation of their own on the nature of the visual experience.
Form, and space, they reasoned. are not actually seen but implied from varying intensities of light and color. Objects are not so much
things in themselves as they are agents for the absorption and refraction of
light. Hard outlines, indeed lines themselves, do not exist in
nature. Shadows, they maintained, are not black but tend to take
the color complementary to that of the objects that cast them. The
concern of the painter, they concluded, should therefore be the
light and color more than with the objects and substances. A
painting, according to the Impressionists, should consist of a
breakdown of sunlight into its component parts, and brilliance
should be achieved by the use of the primary colors that make up
the spectrum. Instead of greens mixed by the painter on the
palette, separate dabs of yellow and blue should be placed close
together and the mixing left to the spectator's eye. What seems
confusion at close range is clarified at the proper distance. By
thus trying to increase the brightness of their canvasses so as to
convey the illusion of sunlight sifted through a prism, they
achieved a veritable carnival of color in which the eye seems to
join in a dance of vibrating light intensities. As a result of
this re-examination of their technical means, the Impressionists
discovered a new method of visual representation.
The Psychology of color:
Color has very strong effects and associations for man - though
these may differ with cultures and between individuals. We often
speak of red as hot and blue as cold. but it is when colors get together
that the action begins. colors can set moods - harmony, sadness,
wild excitement, mystery.