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Submitted by: Linda Wood, St. John's Lower School, Houston, Texas
Unit: Collage/ painting - Modern Art Styles -Matisse (Career lesson - Interior Design)
Grade Level: Elementary (these are 2nd grade - adaptable to middle school)
Lesson Title: Room with a View
Note: Still life collage was done before this project to introduce students to the techniques)
Finished size 24x30 (61 x 76 cm) (white paper mount - art approximately 18" x 26" [46 x 66 cm]). Students were shown a variety of artist's paintings that featured interiors and window views: Dufy, Friedrich, Matisse, (Also here) Chagall, Bonheur, Van Gogh, Dali and a few others.
We discussed overlapping and the way depth is created in those paintings. We also discussed atmospheric perspective, and the way things that are far away are higher on the page and smaller than things that are close. The first step was to create a watercolor view out of a window. Kids were told to make them seasonal and to put themselves into their picture. We looked at art that used color to convey a season, as well, before we did the watercolor part.
Following the completion of the watercolor window, kids made window frames to fit their windows. Some chose to make their windows arched, others were left rectangular. When this was finished, they walked their framed window over to the paper cart and selected a wall color for their interior, based upon a color that harmonized with their window colors. Many chose an accent color in their painting to be the wall color. Windows were then glued to an 18x24 (46 x 61 cm) sheet of construction paper "wall."
Following this, they selected a strip for their carpet, based upon the colors in the window and wall. Then they went to work creating painted sheets (18x24 / 46 x 61 cm) of "Fabric" for bedspreads, tablecloths, and chairs to go with the colors they had already selected. Some used texture sheets with crayon and watercolor, others simply painted texture with a sponge or a brush for their fabrics. (Make sure the glued together window/wall/carpet piece is put away safely before kids begin painting their fabrics.)
When the fabrics were dry, kids collaged together tables, beds, chairs, etc. All were to add something more to make theirs special... a pet, something on the window ledge, toys, dolls, etc. The most important part after the creation of the furniture was to glue the furniture down on their page so that it slightly overlapped their window to create depth. I really pushed the overlapping part, and second graders needed many reminders to do that. They also needed many reminders to consider scale when they made their furniture. Most did really well with this, but I worked harder than I have in a long time, simply because there were so many directions for them to follow for this age.
While they did great in the end, another year or two under their belts would be best for all. I can even see doing this with much older children (plus older students could read directions so less would have to be repeated). The finished colored papers were glued to a really large 24x30 (61 x 76 cm) piece of white paper (or any size of larger white paper - 22" x 28" (56 x 71 cm) poster board might be nice). It seemed to make them more visually appealing if their furniture extended just a bit over onto the white.
Additional notes from Linda (in progress notes -from Getty TeacherArtExchange post):
I'm doing a really cool collage idea with my second graders right now. It could be any age, though, and would be so much better than they can do it, but they ARE doing a really great job and it's very creative Also a great color lesson. They feel like interior designers. I'm calling it "View Through A Window".
I started by showing them lots of images of artists paintings through a window... Matisse, Picasso, Bonheur, and Thomas McKnight. We discussed the depth in these paintings, what you see outside, how things fade away and get smaller in the distance, what was on the windowsills in some of them, what overlapped the windows (chair backs in the corner of a window, someone standing or sitting there, etc.
The final assignment involves painting a small watercolor landscape. The landscape will serve as a window in the collage of an interior space. Students were to paint the landscapes seasonally. I have some lovely wintry paintings, some very springy ones, fall paintings, etc. They also had to put themselves into their landscape. So ideally, it was a place they would like to be/have been. Some were on the water, as if you would be looking out a hotel room window.
When they were finished painting the landscape, they made window frames from white or colored paper. Some were arched, others were rectangle. Following this, they took their painting to the paper rack to select a color that would look great as their wall color. It had to be a color that was an accent color in the painting of their landscape. They selected two pieces of 12x18 (30.5 x 46 cm) colored construction paper and glued them to an 18x24 (46 x 61 cm) white sheet to make the wall. Once they glued the wall together, they glued the window near the top, but it did not have to be centered horizontally. They selected a carpet color (again, having to do with colors in their landscape and wall) to glue to the bottom of the 18x24 (46 x 61 cm) wall. The carpet is 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide, and extends about an inch and a half further to the sides than the wall -wall is 18 wide, carpet is about 21 inches (53.3 cm) wide (Texture panels and crayons could be used to add texture to the carpet). We put a bead of glue at the very bottom of the wall before sticking the edge of the carpet to the wall, so it also made the whole thing longer at this point. Keep in mind that there is also a white 24x30 inch (61 x 76 cm) piece of white paper that will be going behind all of this later to serve as a mat.
Once the wall and carpet were ready, they set that part aside and began creating Eric Carle type of painted texture and pattern paper for fabrics to add to their collage via furniture, curtains, stepstools, tables, lampshades, people's clothes, etc. Once again, they were to select colors that had something to do with their room to use in the patterns and textures for fabric. Many tried complementary colors with an accent of one of the wall, carpet, or landscape colors. Others worked more harmoniously, but darkened or lightened values previously used. We used crayon/texture sheets and watercolors for the painted paper, as well as sponges for dragging paint in stripes to make plaids. I showed them how to make a chair seat in perspective, and they are to make up their own chair backs, but they must overlap the window a bit on one side and the chairs are about 2 feet (61 cm) tall. The fabrics they make will be for seat cushions and backs. They can make anything else they want... add animals curled up in the chair, on the floor, a person, vases of flowers on the windowsill or a table, a woven throw rug, books, etc. Anything in an interior. We let the chair legs extend an inch or so below the edge of the carpet and they could also be glued a little wider than the wall, as the large white paper mat will catch the extension and add an extra dimension. These are really cool looking... very graphic. I sort of made this project up as we went along. Some kids are collaging pets, birdcages on stands, random things on the table, such as a purse, a beverage or dessert plate, etc.
They are enjoying working large, and I think they are learning a lot about color selection as you continue working on a piece of art. Also, they are learning more about depth and how important overlapping is. To have the big chair overlapping the corner of the window with something small on the window ledge, landscape in the background, has been easy for them to understand and fun to think about. Painting the landscape window background first insured interesting backgrounds rather than afterthoughts.
Tips from Barbara Reser:
I found a book "Paint Happy" by Cristina Acosta. I used it as an idea source for a very successful project for students ages 6-8. It's a good way to incorporate a still life and landscape in one project, and I was able to get the message to these wonderful little artists--- "A GOOD ARTWORK FILLS THE PAGE (space)!"
"Fill the space in a beautiful way" - Georgia O'Keeffe
To break up the page:
1. Draw a table top in the lower half of the page
2. Draw a window in the upper half of the page
3. Put legs on the table if necessary.
4. Draw the line where the floor meets the wall.
5. What's on the floor? Draw them.
6. Draw repeat patterns for wallpaper and a door to this room, or anything else on the wall.
7. Draw a landscape out the window.
8. What's on the table? Draw them.