Monday, May 11, 2015

Still Life Drawings

4th grade artists have been studying value, the lightness and darkness of color. After drawing a value scale to explore lighter and darker values and get used to the Ebony pencils, students learned about the art of still life

Still life is the art of drawing or painting inanimate objects such as fruit, flowers and household items which are usually arranged on a table or shelf. Traditionally, still life painting was a way for artists to show off their technical skills.
Ambrosius Bosschaertse, Flower Still Life (1614)
Still life began in the Middle Ages and Greece, and we saw examples of mosaics and paintings from that time. Many still life paintings were influenced by the church, which was an important part of people's everyday lives at that time. As society changed, so did still life painting. Dutch still life paintings often showed the rich possessions of the wealthy owner. Later, modern artists became more interested in showing emotion, as well as abstracting objects.
Willem Kalf, Still Life with Ewer, Vessels and Pomegranate (mid 1640s)
We discussed how the objects chosen for a still life can have meaning, whether it is religious, cultural or personal. For example, with this still life below, many students made connections to life and death. Many students felt that it was about how our time on earth is limited, hence the hourglass, and that we should make the best of life, represented by the flower, before time was up. Other students thought perhaps it was connected to the Day of Dead, which we learned about this fall, and that it was a collection of items honoring someone. Some students also thought that the flower represented life, the skull death, and the hourglass time.
Philippe de Champaigne, Still Life with Skull (17th c.)
After learning about still life, students set about drawing one that was set up at their tables. 
Beginning with the cup on the table, students thought about how to show the different shapes of the objects before adding shading to give the objects a three-dimensional appearance.
Anita, 4th Grade
Kyan, 4th Grade

Armen, 4th Grade
Ricardo, 4th Grade
The following class, students were asked to bring in their own still life objects that had personal meaning to them. There was a wide variety of objects, including stuffed animals, instruments, sports equipment and memorabilia, jewelry and figurines. 
Students approached this still life drawing in the same way, considering shape and form, as well as value. In addition, we discussed positive and negative value, to help students look closely at the relationship between the different parts of their still life object.
Here are some examples of the personal still life drawings:
Zuhi, 4th Grade

Jack, 4th Grade
Catherine, 4th Grade
Anita, 4th Grade
Ana, 4th Grade
Eden, 4th Grade

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