Friday, December 30, 2011

Edgar Degas - Artist Study - Impressionism

Our artist rotation this term will be Degas and Manet.  We are beginning Term 2 on Monday when we return from our Christmas break.  I'm going to break the study up into 6 weeks each- weeks 11-16 will be devoted to Degas and weeks 17-22 to Manet.

To begin our study of Edgar Degas (day-GAH) (French, 1834-1917),
I took two of the Degas paintings I located free online and sent them to walmart to be processed as photographs.  I had them each printed in an 8 x 10 and then I inserted them into these great photo magnet sleeves I found for about $2 and placed them on the fridge.  I love this idea, it's inexpensive but everytime my monkeys go into the fridge they will get another look at the artwork.  :)  Cheap yet effective and you can't beat that!

The two we are starting with (I'm planning to use 3 pieces this way- two weeks each piece) are Ballet Rehearsal On Stage and Racehorses in Front of the Grandstand 1866-68.  I downloaded both pieces from Edgar Degas- The Complete Works.   You'll find more than enough paintings to choose from on this website.  Ambleside Online has their recommendations also if you click here.  You will need to scroll down a bit because Degas and Manet were their selected artists for 2002/2003 Term 2. 

I wanted a painting that included dancers because it was a favorite subject of Degas and delights my daughters but also something a bit more masculine for my son.  I'm not sure he could study ballerinas for the entire six weeks!  I haven't decided on the final piece yet.  I'm considering letting my children choose it as they study his other works in our books and through the stickers I've purchased them. 

 We always begin our new artist study with the first piece of art.  I'll present the painting (this term it will be Ballet Rehearsal On Stage) and have them all look at it.  I'll then tell them a bit about the artist, not the full biography, just some basic facts about him.  I'll tell them where he was born and grew up and what years he lived.  We'll then talk about his style and with Degas I'll mention that although he didn't consider himself an Impressionist, he was always grouped with them. 
Purchase from Dover
The book, "Discovering Great Artists" by MaryAnn F. Kohl & Kim Solga (one of my favorite books that I use again and again) has two very brief introductory paragraphs about Degas on pages 40-41 that I will probably begin with.  I don't purchase all of our homeschool books but this is one I did purchase because we use it again and again- I would have no problem recomending this book as a "purchase book" for anyone using the Charlotte
Mason or even the Classical methods.  You can purchase it through the link from Amazon.  I am an affiliate and I will get credit if you do but that is not why I recommend the book.  I like to add that in when I include these amazon links to be upfront.  :) 

 My next step would be to have the children "narrate" the picture to me.  This was always fun when they were younger but now that they are a little older (2-3rd graders and a 5th grader) and they've been doing this for a couple of years, I enjoy it even more.  They remember so much more and when they begin to compare one artist to another or one painting to another it brings me such true delight.  It's those moments that make me praise God for leading me to homeschooling!   Simply Charlotte Mason has a paragraph explaining how to have children narrate a picture here.
I'll assign them to read a simple biography about Degas during this time.  They will definitely be reading the book, "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists ~ Degas" by Mike Venezia.  When we first began reading this series a few year's ago, it was difficult to find them in our library but now I've noticed my library has many of them.  You could check your local library prior to purchasing.  It's an easy to read picture book but chock full of good information and great cartoon drawings that my children have really enjoyed.  My 5th grader will still be assigned this book to read (in one sitting of course) for our Degas study.   
My plan is to study each picture at least twice a week and narrate each time.  At this stage I'm looking for them to know more about the picture with each study time.  I'll have them all complete a notebooking page about Degas and my 5th grader will also need to complete a page about each picture.  I'm going to have him choose his favorite of the three on the last week of our Degas study and ask him to write a paragraph explaining WHY he chose that picture.  You can find free notebooking pages here from Homeschooling with Index Cards free notebooking forms section.  A HUGE thank you to this mom who's artist biography form I've used for a couple of years!   You can also find artist notebooking page freebies at here.

I will give them the Degas sticker book and split it evenly (very important in my house :)) and let each of them choose thier favorite paintings from the book.  They then put those stickers on a notebooking page and label each of them.  The sticker book I linked does include two photos that are too close to nude for my comfort so I will remove those two from the book before giving the book to my kids.  That leaves 14 pictures so they'll get 4 a piece, still a good deal for $1.50 and it's a great way for them to make the paintings accessible for them to view later (we'll put the notebook page they stick them to and label them on in their art study notebooks.) 
We will complete a coloring page of  one of Degas' paintings.  I normallly let them choose their favorite.  I love the color and paint your own ... paintings!  What an amazing way to get the mental picture in your mind by working on it yourself! 
I have a puzzle that portrays The Dancers I found through Scholastic last year and we'll work on that together throughout the first week or two.  My hopes are that the children will form the mental picture Charlotte Mason speaks about concerning art from the time required of them to look at the painting to complete the puzzle.   I've posted the link to order it through Amazon but it is more expensive.  You'll have to decide it's value to your art study and decide whether or not to purchase it. 
We are going to complete two projects from MaryAnn F. Kohl's "Discovering Great Artists."  One involves showing movement in their art and the other involves working with chalk on a damp fabric piece.  I'm very excited to enjoy these with the kids. 
We will create a final project from the "Usborne Art Treasury."   This book has a short, one page explanation of the picture, Dancers in Blue, drawn by Dega in 1897.  After the informational page there's a project using dark, rough paper and pastels to create their own pastel dancers.  I'm going to use this last fun project during our final week of Degas by then I hope they have a solid feel for his work and will create masterpieces in his style. 

A brief quote from Degas that can be used for copywork or dictation, 
"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do." ~
Edgar Degas

We'll read other books about Degas from the library.  A few I've planned are:
What Makes a Degas a Degas? by Richard Muhlberger
Marie in fourth position: the story of Degas's "The little dancer" by Amy Littlesugar
Degas and the little dancer: a story about Edgar Degas by Laurence Anholt
Degas and the dance : the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art by Susan Goldman Rubin

I found all of the above titles at my local library so check your library for books on Degas in the juvenile section.  I do not make these books "difficult reads" in general because I want to introduce them to the artists and their art and teach them to love, enjoy, and remember it. 

For my 5th grader, I've requested the following book from our library:
Meet Edgar Degas / National Gallery of Canada ; [compiled by] Anne Newlands

I have not previewed it yet, I was interested because of the following description:
Presents the life and paintings of Edgar Degas in a first person narrative drawn from letters, notebooks, and people's stories about the artist.
I'm hoping it will be a great opportunity to give my son a taste of using primary resources. 

That is our plan so far for our Edgar Degas artist study.  Have you planned your next artist study?  Is there something fun and engaging you're doing with your children?  I'd love to hear about it!  I'm always looking for new ideas to keep my children interested!

For more information on picture study in general, Higher Up and Further In has an incredibly organized system set up in her homeschool.  You can read more about it here.   Love the idea of having all of her children keep their own copies of each piece in a book of art! 

Here is some basic biographical information about Degas from and some additional product links you might find interesting!  Please leave comments and send photos of your own Degas artist studies!  I'll be posting our results as well!

Much love,

Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 - 27 September 1917), was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers.  ~

1 comment:

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