My First Graders are studying Fauvism. To explore this super fun art movement, I taught my students about the landscape.
Anatomy of a Landscape
I teach my kids that a landscape is comprised of three parts: foreground, middle ground, and background. We look at a series of real-world examples and, using the SMARTBoard, I have a few kids come up and trace over the location of the foreground, middle ground, and background. As we map out the landscape using Line, we talk about how different artists (in this case, photographers) use Space.
We talk about the advantages of using big foregrounds, big middle grounds, and big backgrounds. It was great to see the kiddos understand that you need to make the space bigger where you want to put more landscape stuff, such as trees, bushes, etc.
Studying Line Type
Our discussion also addresses Line Type. For you Art Curiousitists, Line Type refers to how art educators teach students about all the different kinds of lines there are:
- Curved (also used to make: Wavy, Bumpy, Spiral)
- Broken (aka Dotted or Dashed)
Some art teachers list a variety of line types. Starting with these four, I show my students how they can expand their choices with simple changes. Working through that interconnectedness together is important; the earlier the better, too!
As such, you’ll notice I collapse Wavy, Bumpy, and Spiral under the heading of Curved. I do that because you use a curved line to make all of these sub-types. Of course, if I was being totally consistent, I would remove Zigzag because a Zigzag Line is just a straight line with a change of direction. But, I have to stop the madness somewhere, right?
Additionally, some teachers also collapse Line Direction (i.e., vertical, diagonal, horizontal) in with Line Type whereas I break them out as separate concepts.
In the final analysis, you just need to pick your Line Types and be consistent as you teach them, however you teach them.
Once we review the anatomy of a landscape and see how different types of line can be used to create a landscape, I have the students create thumbnail sketches.
I have tried doing a simple explanation of thumbnails and we draw one or two together. I have also tried turning the thumbnail process into a game where I match a number on the die with a type of line. Students roll the die to create their landscape.
Once students create a few thumbnail sketches, I give them feedback and then they select the one they think is most successful. Using a standard-sized mat, I trace out the area my students will use for their final artwork. After transferring their drawings to the final paper, the kids trace their lines in black crayon.
Color, Color, and More Color
We review how the Fauves handled color. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this art movement, Fauvism began towards the end of the twentieth century. The name was coined in response to what critics saw: paintings with loose connections to the naturalistic world and wild colors. Thus, Le Fauves, or “the wild beasts,” became the designation for this loosely affiliated group of artists of whom Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck were a part. Matisse, the leader of the pack, experimented with Post-Impressionist styles (think Van Gogh and Cezanne) and Neo-Impressionist styles (think Seurat) which lead to conventions such as a compressed sense of space where colors loosely defined areas within the picture.
As with the original Fauves, my little Fauves were told to ignore the colors they normally saw outside; no blue skies, or green grassy fields. At one point, I had to put a stop to the ‘rainbow-effect’ over taking some of the kid’s artwork. I felt bad limiting them, but one young girl’s piece looked like Rainbow Dash vomited all over her work! That little hiccup aside, the work turned out really well (more here, here and here).
I like having pieces parents can easily frame (accessibility is important in art advocacy!), but I think having children paint large versions of these simple landscapes on 24″x36″ paper would look awesome. Perhaps some day. This time around we simply used crayon.
Do you have any interesting art projects celebrating the work of Le Fauves? If so, share it in the comments section!
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