Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Renaissance Review and The Renaissance Man, Leonardo Da Vinci

                      Leonardo Da Vinci                                                              The Mona Lisa

What were the four things that changed how paintings were done in the Renaissance and from then on?
Let's review:
1. The materials used. There is an interesting progression here from egg tempura and wooden surfaces and panels to fresco walls and ceilings to oil paints on stretched canvas. Oil paints on stretched canvas became the preferred methodology  during this time in art history.Why? Because artists were able to use a wider variety of rich colors and broader value scales to depict more realistic and life like paintings.

2 Perspective. This was very significant because it allows the artist to create the illusion of dimensional space on a flat surface.This technique becomes part of  the foundation for all of European painting over the next 500 years. Da Vinci uses this technique in The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa.

The Last Supper

3. Light and Shadow or Chiaroscuro which is literally translated light /dark in Italian becomes a painting technique perfected by Leonardo Da Vinci and it is used in the Mona Lisa where the light areas, as in the folds of her garments emerge, looking rounded and draped from the dark background of her dress.

4. Pyramid Configuration arranging figures and items in a triangular arrangement or pyramid creates symmetry and a focal point. 

These four new ways of doing things really changed the course for artist during the Renaissance.This time period is so exciting to study because so much was happening during history. Artists were being influence by so many things, science, discovery, exploration, religious change, innovation and inventions. We can see this in the art world as the artist reflected the time, social, political and emotions of the age.

 Vitruvian Man

One such person was Leonardo Da Vinci. Many claimed that he was "The Renaissance Man" because he possessed so many excellent qualities and talents. There was nothing he couldn't do once he set himself to it. He was also found to be handsome and charming. What an interesting person, this Leonardo from Vinci. He was mountain climber, bird watcher and nature lover.  Today we say that he was able to think on both sides of his brain.

Leonardo's Journals on the human body

Leonardo's Journals on flying machines and inventions

This means his logical mathematical mind accomplished just as much as his artistic and creative mind.
Our final project will be a collaborative one. We will work together to paint the Mona Lisa! I look forward to giving you all the details in class.

~ Lots of paints and gesso,  Mrs. W


(The Annotated Mona Lisa, Carol Strickland, Ph.D.pg.32-34)
Photos from Google for educational purpose only

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tempura Paint, Renaissance, and Michelangelo

 Renaissance Naples 
Photo Courtesy of  Tsiosophy.com
We are moving into an exciting time in art history, the Renaissance! Many things were changing during this time.Not only were artists looking forward with new ideas, but they were also looking back and taking classical ideas and giving them new life. According to Carol Strickland Ph.D., who wrote The Annotated Mona Lisa,  

      "While art hardly died in the Middle Ages, what was reborn in the Renaissance-and extended in the                  Baroque period-was lifelike art. A shift in interest from the supernatural to the natural caused this                  change. The rediscovery  of the Greco-Roman tradition helped artists reproduce visual images                      accurately. Aided by the expansion of scientific knowledge, such as an understanding of anatomy and            perspective, painters of the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries went beyond Greece and Rome in                  technical proficiency."

As we study this transition in art history, we will be doing  a color study, to prepare us for our last and final project of the year. Our color study will be to work as an art apprentice. Just as the apprentice mastered the making of his tools and more importantly the art of mixing tempura paint for the master, we will do the same.  Then taking what we have learned, we will study the Sistine Chapel, as we look at tempura painting on dry Fresco, just like Michelangelo!

 "The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."

Below is a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel, spend some time really looking at all the paintings, it is such a wonder! I hope to some day to stand within its walls and look up! But for now this virtual tour will have to do. This is the next best thing I promise! Once you have clicked on the link below, click on the 'M' in the bottom left and it will allow your mouse to control the camera direction. Sweet! The + and - allow you to zoom in and out. This is awesome!

Can you tell what is the real architecture of the building and what has been painted? Can you read any of the Latin words that are in the Roman hand on the frieze that is around the room. Are the curtains on the walls real?  What else do you observe?

Also look at the lay out of the artwork itself, I think Michelangelo was just brilliant!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Art of Gongbi Silk Painting

Our  next project, will focus on China in the Middle Ages. A style of painting that emerged during this time was technique done on silk called Gongbi .  The word Gongbi comes from two words: Gong, meaning detailed and Bi, meaning writing. In this tradition of painting the brush is held in the same way Chinese characters are written and realistic details help the paintings take shape.

The Gongbi tradition of silk painting dates from 700-1900 BC and uses detailed brush work and a colorful paint palette. In class we will create our paintings using some traditional subjects found in nature in China: colorful Koi and the stunning Lotus Flower.  Here is a couple of examples:

The Lotus in design and patterns

Koi and Lotus on a shop sign 

For this particular technique only things found in nature or real life are painted, nothing from the imagination is painted in this way, according to Henry Li, of Blue Heron Arts,Co.

We will be working on silk material treated in the traditional way using a sizing solution to stiffen it and then do similar steps of back painting, then front painting and details using layering techniques and washes.

The following video should give you a wonderful appreciation for the precision and careful execution the artists takes as she prepares her drawing, prepares her silk and mixes her colors. I was mesmerized by her grace and the coordination of her brushes and brush strokes. I love how, even the movements of the artist as they paint, is done with artistry. I feel this is something I can learn from. It is very symbolic of Chinese culture and other Chinese artwork.

I hope this gets you excited about our next project! Mrs. W. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Art of Gothic Lettering

                                                                        Morte d’Arthur, a poem by Alfred Tennyson

As we are learning the Gothic hand during class time, I wanted to give you a couple of resources and examples for you to use, in case you do some work at home. This website is a wonderful site that walks you through each stroke of a letter (in red), very helpful if you get stuck. Visit HERE. I would encourage you to poke around this site there is lots of information about calligraphy in general there too.

As we get into letter art, we see how the talent of medieval scribes and modern day calligraphists bring the letters to life! Watch this video to see what I mean.

 There is also a link HERE  for the finished alphabet set in a PDF if you wish to download and print it yourself once at the website scroll down till you find a light blue banner and the button is over the top. Letfties don't despair this video is just for you!

This is a great video for those of you who are left-handed ah-ha so this is how it is done!
 (I finally found a video for you;o)

Here are some pictures of letter art I found on the internet. Aren't they just beautiful in and of themselves. Our project for our Book of Hours will consist of a longer writing,, perhaps a verse, and an illuminated letter at the beginning.  You will have to decide what kinds of elements you will include. Will it have a scene? Knot work, flourishes, flowers, creatures? Will you decorate the letter or leave it plain? Where will you paint your letter with gold? Hopefully, I have sparked your imagination and you will have some ideas for our class time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Art of Medieval Stained Glass

Stained-glass might sound like an unusual model for our next art project, but as I have studied them, I have learned that they were masterpieces in their own right! I also found it fascinating, to see over time, how this particular form evolved to become quite a complex  piece of architecture (see 2 part video). These windows became an artistic tool used to tell stories to those who gazed upon them. You see most people in Medieval Europe were illiterate. The primary language of the church, at that time was Latin. So how did theses beautiful windows tell a story? We will discuss this question in art class! But for now, continue to read and watch the videos so that you have a basic understanding of what I call "an amazing art form".

"The north transept rose (10.5 m diameter, made c.1235), like much of the sculpture in the north porch beneath it, is dedicated to the Virgin.[26] The central oculus shows the Virgin and Child and is surrounded by 12 small petal-shaped windows, 4 with doves (the 'Four Gifts of the Spirit'), the rest with adoring angels carrying candlesticks. Beyond this is a ring of 12 diamond-shaped openings containing the Old Testament Kings of Judah, another ring of smaller lozenges containing the arms of France and Castille, and finally a ring of semicircles containing Old Testament Prophets holding scrolls. The presence of the arms of the French king (yellow fleurs-de-lis on a blue background) and of his mother, Blanche of Castile(yellow castles on a red background) are taken as a sign of royal patronage for this window. Beneath the rose itself are five tall lancet windows (7.5 m high) showing, in the centre, the Virgin as an infant held by her mother, St Anne – the same subject as the trumeau in the portal beneath it. Flanking this lancet are four more containing Old Testament figures. Each of these standing figures is shown symbolically triumphing over an enemy depicted in the base of the lancet beneath them – David over Saul, Aaron over Pharaoh, St Anne over Synagoga, etc."(Chartres Cathedral, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartres_Cathedral)

Can you see the flying buttresses? They are the external arms supporting
 the back rotunda and the sides of the chapel.

"With flying buttresses for external support , the clerestory windows became as tall as the main arcade of the first floor. This expansion transformed the upper story into a light show of supreme beauty. The chief glory of Chartres is its 26,000 sq. ft. of stained-glass windows. ' Flaming jewelry'  the critic John Ruskin called the windows-90 % original- because of their luminous blues and reds, which soften the cold stone of the interior." "(The Annotated Arch, Carol Strickland, Ph.D.,2001) Today it is one of the oldest examples of medieval craftsmanship in stained-glass dating back to 1225. 

The following are great videos 1&2  that talk about Rose window and Medieval architecture. 

The next two Nova videos talk about How the glass was made and how Cathedrals were made both are so fascinating! 

Nova video on How Stained Glass was made

Nova video on How Cathedrals were Made

All of these videos give you a great foundation and background on stained-glass windows in the Middles Ages. However in class we are also going to talk about the art of stained glass.  We will be talking about symbolism and symbolic color. You are going to love this project because this is a chance to tell your story using symbols and color.  I wonder if the class will be able to figure out your story? See you then, Ms. W

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

For Home Study of The Bayeux Tapestry Art Project

Some of you from HIS co-op were rearing to get busy on your Bayeux Tapestry Project, so  I wanted to get you started! I was super excited to find this video tutorial on how to do the ancient Bayeux Stitch. If you decide to work on your Bayeux Tapestry motif  from home to finish this project and earn two BONUS cards  then, bookmark this video, it will be helpful in reminding you of the steps. I will also list some tips and steps to help you succeed. First watch this video.

In this video she does the outlining stitch in the beginning and I have instructed it at the end. I feel that either way is acceptable and up to you. You have pictures on your stitching instruction sheet I gave you in class to show you the back stitch for outlining and the french knot for making dots and eyes. If unsure you can watch You Tube videos HERE and HERE

Tips for Stitching:
  • MOST IMPORTANT *** Get into the habit of always leaving your needle woven into the fabric of your work and then you will never loose it. 
  • As you get started make sure you have your preliminary design pattern and stitch instruction sheets in front of you for reference.
  • Have your threads organized, perhaps wind them around a piece of cardboard or embroidery thread bobbins to keep them neat for later use. You can go to the blog Wild Olive for a cute free printable template to make your own on card stock.
  • Stitch out one color at a time. 
  • Cut your length of thread into four lengths of 18 in.. Do this for each color you will use. This way you have a shorter length to manage in your work and it is much easier. It also doesn't get tangled as easily.
  • Do the detail stitching last. Eyes, dots, Latin words etc.
If you get stuck I am a phone call or email away! Happy Stitching- Mrs.W

Monday, December 29, 2014

Normans and Saxons...How Do We Know Who Won?

Anyone who is a student of history has heard of the Battle of Hastings. But if you are an art student, you may not know what I am talking about. But it is the art student who can truly appreciate something from that history that was left behind. We will be using it as our art model for this next project, it is called the Bayeux Tapestry. What is this you ask? Like all other posts on my blog, it is my personal opinion that it should be considered a great work of art to study during this time period. Like the Book of Kells, the Bayeux Tapestry, is just extraordinary!
In the Bayeux Museum, France
And here is why: everything use to create this amazing embroidery was handmade. Everything, the copper alloy needles used,  the flax grown and harvested, the linen woven into material, to the wool spun into thread, to the herbs harvested and then used to dye it, and the the wooden frames used to hold it as it was sewn. All of these things were made by hand. That fact alone is amazing in 1066 AD, but here is the part that will make you gasp in astonishment, yes, gasp I say!

This embroidery is 229 feet long and measures 19 in. wide.*Gasp!* It is made up of nine sections sewn together to make a long banner. The design is made up of a wide center band where the main story is told and then flanked by a boarder on either side with symbols, small pictures and decorative bars. There are also simple Latin references for the person who was a novice at reading Latin.

Close up of stitching
 There are 4 different stitches used throughout the tapestry and all the woolen colors have been dyed using only 3 natural plant dyes! However, there are 10 colors throughout the tapestry! Click on this link to learn more about this amazing fiber art piece.(Pierre Bouet and Francois Neveux , Internationa experst on the Bayerux tapestry,http://www.bayeuxmuseum.com/)

 Here is what it might have looked like as it was being made

This beautiful handmade tapestry tells the epic tale of a great battle between William the Conqueror of France and  Harold the Unfortunate of England.

Here is a History Clip to watch:

Here is a great website link on the Norman Conquest

Here is an animated version of the tapestry:

Here is a super fun interactive link where you can  make your own rendition of the Bayeux tapestry. Must print it off and bring it in for a bonus card! Just try it out and have fun. Mrs. W

**Important** Time to check your art box for your supplies and to make sure it is stocked with everything you need.  HERE is a master list for you to use. Please do this before next class time.For the next 3 weeks you will need your embroidery hoop, tapestry needle, and scissors.   

All photos are from Google and used for educational purposes