Do You See What I See?
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- Learn essential elements that characterize different painting styles
- Identify specific works of art painted by one of 12 masters
- Analyze and further research one painter and style of artwork
- Create a painting that follows the principles of the art style they've chosen
As a model for viewing a variety of artworks, review with students the sketch of "The Geographer" by Jan Vermeer in the back of their books. Demonstrate how to examine the illustration:
- Point out the artists' style of creating lines and shading.
- Examine the use of texture, color, and light.
- Note the man's clothing and the setting of the painting.
- Ask if this painting has a realistic style or is exaggerated, like a comic book illustration.
Have students go to Report for the Flashlight Times, where they'll choose an article topic and a painting to report on. In completing the activity, students will practice analyzing artwork and paying attention to stylistic details.
Working independently or in small groups, have students play Masterpiece Match. As they match paintings to the correct artist, have them take notes on each of the artistic styles. Students should play multiple times in order to access all represented art styles.
Once all students have completed the match, discuss as a class the different painting styles. Drawing on their notes, have students tell you about:
1. Abstract Art
2. Art Nouveau
4. Dutch Genre Painting
8. Portraits and Self-Portraits
9. Still Lifes
11. The Renaissance
12. The Rocky Mountain School
Beyond what they found out during the game, do students know anything additional about these styles or eras?
Students will take what they've learned from these art observation activities and apply it to creating an original work of art. Have them choose a style to work in from the 12 categories listed above.
Using library resources and Web sites, students should work independently outside of class to gather additional facts about the artistic style. See Additional Resources for some reference suggestions. Students should research the artist and the featured painting from Masterpiece Match that depicts that style. Have them take notes about the history and characteristics of the style.
Provide time during the next class for students to create their own paintings. If time allows, have each person present their artwork to the class and explain how they used specific characteristics of the style they chose.
Supporting All Learners
- Understands reasons for varied interpretations of visual media
- Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts
- Uses new information to adjust and extend personal knowledge base
- Knows the similarities and differences in the meanings of common terms used in the various arts (e.g., form, line, contrast)
- Invite students to write a fictional account of an artist's experience using real facts. Show them "Vermeer Fast Facts" as a starting example. Students may create an original story about Vermeer or collect similar information about another artist to weave into a story.
- Have students read the interview with Chasing Vermeer illustrator Brett Helquist. Have them research the artists he cites (N.C. Wyeth, Jeff Smith of Bone, and Mike Mignola of Hellboy). What styles do these artists embody? Have students make observations about colors, shading, line style, realism, symbolism in the art, and other qualities of their work.
- Brett Helquist talks about the challenge of hiding the pentominoes in his illustrations. Have students create a new painting where they conceal a pentomino or other secret image or message in the picture.
- Look at the illustrations with fresh eyes. Ask students to pick one illustration from the novel and write a caption for it that has nothing to do with the story of Chasing Vermeer.
- Assess how students worked Masterpiece Match: did they read and analyze the information or click until they got it right?
- Review students' notebooks and evaluate their research work and the sources they used.
- Evaluate students' artwork, not based on artistic talent, but rather on how well they attempted to apply elements of the style they chose.