Art History: Grade 2 Lesson 4
ART & OBSERVATION- Techniques and Media
Pretend a visit to an art store.
There are so many kinds of materials you might have
a difficult time choosing the kind of art to do. Some artists today
use even more common things we find around us such as rocks, dirt and
junk from the dump.
You could make something you can walk around - a
sculpture; or something that moves around in space as you stand still
- a mobile. You could make a picture on a flat wall or a painting to
hang on a wall.
Today we'll talk about the materials and tools an
artist uses to paint or draw a flat picture to be framed:
You can go to an art store and buy the paint and
brushes and surfaces to paint; they are already prepared. Long ago the
artist had to grind minerals and rocks into colored dust called
pigment. Then he had to decide which sticky substance to use to bind
the color particles together in a paste. Some sticky things they used,
and may still use are:
- Glue made from animal bone, skin, fats.
- Skimmed milk or cottage cheese mixed with lime.
- Paste or oils made from plants.
Today we have scientists - chemists, in laboratories
- who do all this work for us and package the paint in tubes. Even so,
it's important to know as much as possible about the medium (sticky
stuff that holds the pigment together) because then we can choose the
best kind of brush and surface to decorate.
- Assorted Art Materials, BOX, Materials
used for pencil sketches, pen & ink, charcoal drawing, pastels,
watercolor, oil & acrylic painting.
Pencil, charcoal. There are many pencils,
charcoals, chalks and crayons to choose from and just as
many different kinds of papers. Usually a rough paper is
chosen, but the artist must decide how smooth or textured,
thick or thin, colored, gray or white. Note how the lights
and shadows are drawn with a pencil.
There is another way to draw. Artists took
the materials from writers of words. There is a variety of
pens - reed, quill, or steel. (The Chinese and Japanese even
use a brush in the same way as a pen. They also have special
inkstones and sticks to grind their own ink.) Today we have
ball point pens and felt tip markers. Pen and ink is best
done on smooth paper. Why?
Using pastels, you are both drawing and
sort of painting. Pastel is color in its purest form, ground
and pressed into sticks (very little binding material is
added.) Some pastels have oil added to prevent smearing, or
the finished pastel drawing can be sprayed with a fixative
to keep it from smearing. You can mix and spread the color
and make wonderfully soft edges by rubbing with your fingers
or soft cloth. Any slightly rough paper is used - colored
papers are preferred.
Look at Mary Cassat's Child
in Red Hat and find where the color is rubbed out to a
soft edge. See how the soft pink is repeated. Find the
drawing lines where the pastel is used like a pencil. Do you
think the soft subtle colors contribute to the feelings
between mother and child?
The name comes from what is used to thin
the paint - water. Your school paints are a kind of
watercolor - tempera - but they are thick to enable you to
cover a large area smoothly. Also, with tempera you can't
see through the colors, so you can paint one color over
another dry color and cover mistakes.
Another kind of watercolor (pigments are
bound with a different water-soluble medium than in poster
paints) is more like your watercolor boxes. The artists'
paints can be bought in tubes (or cakes). This paint
requires a special paper (100% rag paper - heavier the
better) to hold the wet paint on the surface long enough to
be spread around evenly or to mix new colors into it. The
brush is made specially to hold just the right amount of
water and paint - it feels soft.
Artists choose these watercolors for their
transparency - you can see the white of the paper behind the
color (like light shining through). Often these paints are
painted in thin layers or washes, so that you can see one
color behind another. Have you ever noticed how your school
poster paints are less intense in color as they dry? That's
true of all watercolors, the more water, the duller color -
and they dry quickly. The watercolor palette or dish is
white so you can see the mixed color as it would appear on
the paper with the whiteness shining through.
Look at "Light
Coming on the Plains" by Georgia O'Keeffe. Notice
the transparent colors which are put on the paper in layers
or washes. (You can see the white paper shining through. the
colors are more dull than in an oil painting.
Think about the poster or tempera paints
you use in school. How do they compare with these other
kinds of paints?
Oil colors are pigments bound together
with linseed or poppy oils. The paint has special qualities:
- The paints stay wet a long time - you
can mix new colors into the wet paint.
- The paints can be thick or thinned with
turpentine (water won't work, even the brushes must be
cleaned with turpentine.)
- The colors are opaque - you can't see
through them, so that when the paint dries, you can
paint over mistakes or make changes. Oil paints can also
be thinned to be transparent, almost like a watercolor.
- The colors stay the same brightness,
even as they dry.
- The finished, dry picture is durable
and doesn't need to be protected with glass.
- A special surface must be prepared from
canvas stretched over a frame. oil paints may also be
applied to other surfaces, such as wood, glass, metal or
- You can use a special palette and
palette knife to mix and to thin colors.
Acrylic paints are a modern invention
which combine many of the properties of oils and
These are only a few of the many ways to
make art to hang on walls. We'll talk about some others, for
example printmaking and photography, in a future lesson.
- CHILD IN RED HAT, ,
Mary Cassat, American (1844-1926), pastel, Reproduction print.
| Mary Cassatt is often
considered to be America's most famous woman painter. She was
born into a rich Pennsylvania family, but lived most of her
life in Paris. Her early work there was rejected by the
conservative salons, but in 1877 she was invited by Degas to
exhibit with the Impressionists. Although she was close to
Renoir, Manet and Cezanne, Degas remained the strongest
influence on her art.
see also Grade
1, Lesson 3 for Cassatt and links
- ANSONIA, 1977, Richard Estes,
American (1936-), oil on canvas (46x60"), Whitney Museum of
American Art, Reproduction print.
| Can you see the bright
grays? This painting looks like a photograph. Why? Photographs
too, are a medium of artists. Photos capture every detail and
although it seems that Richard Estes has also, he actually
eliminated and simplified many things in this city scene. We
call this king of painting "Super-realism". Why?
Estes has been accepted as a Hyper-, Photo-,
New or Super Realist (the names are interchangeable), that is
a painter who faithfully records and transmits every detail of
the subject observed. It is not an accurate description in his
case, for just as an artist like Lichtenstein selected from
his source of comic book imagery only what he wanted, so Estes
considerably edits what the camera records. He works in a
conventional painterly way, arranging his paintings according
to traditional canons. And they are paintings: the original
photograph is the ‘sketch', and any subsequent photographic
blow-up he would consider too blurred for his purposes. On
examination, his works prove to be richly painted - the paint
being applied with great suavity. His theory that ‘more is
less: The more you show the way things look the less you show
how they are" is not one that the viewer of his work
immediately understands. The smooth Art Deco brilliance of the
painting belies the cluttered tatty urban American streetscape
that is his subject matter. Estes' comment lies in the
creation of an anesthetized sterile world - his comment is his
deadpan presentation of the banalities of the common scene.
LIGHT COMING ONTO THE
PLAINS III, 1917, Georgia
O'Keefe, American (1887-1986),
watercolor, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Portrait of Georgia O'Keefe, , Alfred
Stieglitz, American (1864-1946),
photograph, Reproduction print
BASEN D'ARGENTEUIL, , Claude
Monet, French, (1840-1926), RISD Museum, RI Reproduction print.
|O'Keefe married Alfred Steiglitz,
an accomplished American photographer. She moved out to New
Mexico, painted large flowing shapes. Many images of flowers
enlarged, desert landscapes, animal skull motifs. Abstracted
LES ASTRES, (The Stars), 1966,
Alexander Calder, American (1898-1976) lithographic print,
|Calder was born in Philadelphia
at the turn of the century. As a young boy, his Dad built him
a little workshop where he built toys for his sister and
himself. He became a mechanical engineer - turned artist. He
produced HUGE mobiles of simple shapes and primary colors, one
of which hangs in the modern wing of the Smithsonian. He loves
the color red so much "...I want to paint almost
everything red !“, said he.
is a copy of a LITHOGRAPH — a printing process where one
chemically changes the surface of a block of limestone, or
treated metal plate, to accept ink. When ink is rolled on, it
sticks to these ‘ink-loving’ spots. The surface is then
run through a large press bed to press the ink onto paper.
There is a separate plate and press run for each different
color ink to be pressed onto the same sheet of paper when
dried from the previous run. These days, artists’ prints are
usually processed mechanically, though special print studios
do still hand print artists’ works for smaller editions.
REBUS, 1955, Robert Rauschenburg,
American, (1925-) mixed media, Reproduction print
|This is thrown in for fun. The
children can examine it. Do they like it? What MEDIA can they
see in this picture? Discuss collage .....
anything they find.