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Impressionist Still Life Paintings with reference to
Principles of Design, Elements of Art and Elements of Perspective
Objectives for the Lesson:
To develop the students’ arm movement and eye-hand coordination while drawing still life arrangements.
To teach basic drawing techniques and skills of geometric shapes seen in objects which will enable students to develop better drawing skills.
Visual Arts Standards of Learning:
Visual Communication and Production:
6.2 The student will use the principles of design to express ideas to create images,
including proportion, rhythm, balance, emphasis, variety, and unity.
7.6 The student will create the illusion of depth in two-dimensional works of art using
a variety of the following devices:
2. atmospheric perspective;
3. diminishing size and detail; and
4. object placement in the picture plane.
7.7 The student will create contour line drawings that demonstrate perceptual skill.
8.2 The student will further expand and develop the use of the elements of art and the
principles of design.
Judgement and Criticism:
6.14 The student will discuss the elements of art, the principles of design, art
techniques, and art media as they influence meaning in two-dimensional works of
7.22 The student will analyze, interpret, and judge works of art based on the
organization and manipulation of the elements of art and the principles of design
using appropriate art vocabulary.
1. Daily Snapshots: 10 Minutes
The students will read, write, and/or highlight drawing vocabulary and lesson handouts as well as the Standards of Learning for drawing.
Foreground – Objects that appears closets or nearer to the viewer
Middle ground – Objects that are between the foreground and background
Background – Objects that appear to be distant or receding.
Composition – Work of art in two-dimensional form.
Inanimate Objects - [15th century. < late Latin inanimatus "lifeless" < Latin animatus
Repetition – Patterns of the elements of art, perspective, and principles of art.
Still Life - a representation of inanimate objects such as fruit, flowers, or food, often in a domestic setting, in paintings, pictures, or photographs
Subject Matter – scenery or objects for drawing, paintings, or photographes
Principles of Design:
Balance – principle of design that deals with arranging visual elements in a work of art equally.
The two types of balance are formal or symmetrical and informal or asymmetrical. Formal balance is equal balance on both sides of the subject matter and informal balance will show as one side of the composition as heavy on one or numerous sides.
Symmetry is the balance of elements and objects within an artistic composition. Symmetrical balance can be formal whereas both sides of the composition has equal parts or are identical and informal balance is asymmetrical whereas one side of the composition is visually heavier than the other side.
Emphasis – principle of design that stress one element or area in a work of art to attract the viewer’s attention immediately.
Proportion – principle of design concerned with the size relationship of one part or area of the composition with another.
Rhythm/Motion - arts pattern in art: a pattern suggesting movement or pace in something such as a work of art
Unity – principle of design that allows the viewer to see a combination of elements, principles, and media as a whole. Unity is harmony, simplicity, repetition, and continuation.
Variety – principle of design concerned with the difference in lighting and color contrasts.
The Elements of Art:
Line – element of art that is a continuous mark made on a surface with a pointed moving tool.
Lines vary in appearance in different lengths, widths, textures, directions and degree of curve. Lines are one-dimension and is measured in length. A line considered a path of dots used in space by an artist to control the viewer’s eye movement. There are five kinds of line vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zigzag.
Shape - element of art that is two-dimensional and encloses space.
Form - element of art that is three-dimension and encloses space. Form has length, width, and depth. Forms are either geometric or freeform.
Space – element of art referring to the emptiness or area between, around, above, below, or within objects. Shapes and forms are defined by the space around and within them.
Color – element of art derived from reflected light. The sensation is color is aroused in the bran by response of the eyes to different color wavelengths of light. Color has three properties: hue, value, and intensity.
Value – element of art that deals with darkness or lightness. Value depends on how much light a surface reflects. Value is also one of the three properties of color.
Texture – element of art that refers to how things feel or how they look like they may feel on a surface. Texture is perceived by touch and through sight.
Elements of Perspective:
Overlapping - Overlapping occurs when one object covers part of a second object or additional objects. The first object appears closer to the viewer than the objects overlapped.
Placement – Objects placed either high or low on the picture plane seem to be closer to the viewer than objects placed closer to eye level. The most distance shapes are those that seem to be exactly at eye level.
Size - Objects varying in size. Large objects appear to be closer to the viewer as opposed the objects higher on the picture plane because they appear smaller and further away from the viewer.
Detail – Objects with clear, sharp edges and visible details seem to be close to the viewer. Objects that lack detail and have hazy outlines seem to be farther away.
2. Instruction: 20 Minutes
Instruction will include the following:
Lesson Unit. The students will respond orally to the following questions:
1. What are the Principles of Design?
2. What are the Elements of Art?
3. What are the Elements of Perspective?
4. What is the purpose of learning the Principles of Design and Elements of Art?
I will read the Principles of design, elements of art, and elements of perspective definitions to the students and they are to orally give the appropriate word for each definition. The answers for each definition are in red. The definitions are as follows:
1. Rhythm - Principle of Design that repeats elements to create the illusion of
movement. This Principle of Design is perceived through the eyes, and is created by
repeating positive spaces separated by negative spaces.
2. Line - The Element of Art that deals with linear arrangement onto a surface.
3. Movement - Principle of design that deals with creating the illusion of action or
physical change in position. Artists often use visual movement to control the way a
viewer looks at a work of art.
4. Balance - Principle of design that deals with arranging visual elements in a work
of art equally. If a work of art is visually pleasing, the viewer feels that the elements
have been arranged in a satisfying way.
5. Proportion - Principle of design concerned with the size relationships of one part to
the whole and one part to another.
6. Variety - Principle of design concerned with difference or contrast.
7. Emphasis - Principle of design that stresses one element or area in a work of art to
make it attract the viewer's attention first. The element noticed first is called dominant;
the elements noticed later are called subordinate.
8. Unity - Principle of design that allows the viewer to see a combination of
elements, principles, and media as a whole.
9. Shape - The element of art that is two-dimensional and encloses space.
10. Form - The element of art that is three-dimensional and encloses space.
11. Color - The element of art that arouse our visual senses.
12. Texture - The element of art that refers to how things feel or look like they may
13. Value - The element of art that refers to dark and light areas seen in an art
14. Space - The element of art that refers to emptiness between, above, below,
and around objects. Positive space is imagery or objects within an environment.
Negative space is emptiness around, between, above, or below objects.
15. Overlapping - Overlapping occurs when one object covers part of a second object or
additional objects. The first object appears closer to the viewer than the objects overlapped.
16. Placement – Objects placed either high or low on the picture plane seem to be closer to the
viewer than objects placed closer to eye level. The most distance shapes are those that seem
to be exactly at eye level.
17. Size -Objects varying in size. Large objects appear to be closer to the viewer as opposed the
objects higher on the picture plane because they appear smaller and further away from the
18. Detail – Objects with clear, sharp edges and visible details seem to be close to the viewer.
Objects that lack detail and have hazy outlines seem to be farther away.
I will review the Principles of Design, Elements of Art, and Elements of Perspective seen in works of art. I will also discussion how the principles of design and elements of art, used by various artists, to convey their style and interpretation of their subject matter in their compositions.
I will discuss and demonstrate how to use a round paintbrush for drawing and a flat paintbrush for painting and blending colors within shapes. I will also demonstrate various painting techniques to enhance the students’ drawing skills. The students’ drawing exercises will be timed drawings of geometric shapes and contours seen in objects for visual contour awareness of objects within our environment.
I will demonstrate the proper way to hold a round easel paintbrush-using arm and eye-hand coordination while drawing on a two-dimensional surface. Teacher modeling on how to sketch geometric shapes and contours seen in still life objects and combining shapes to produce objects seen in still life objects during timed sessions.
3. Practice: 20 Minutes
I will discuss the appropriate observation of objects and drawing steps students should use to closely observe and render their subject matter’s contours. The drawing exercises should improve the students’ eye-hand coordination in rendering their subjects’ proportion and placement on a two-dimensional surface.
Students are to practice holding their paintbrush; arm, and eye-hand coordination while drawing their still life subjects on a two-dimensional surface.
The students are to relate geometric shapes to the forms seen in their still life arrangement.
1. The students will use a round easel paintbrush using very little paint to do quick renderings of their still life arrangement in timed drawings. The timed drawing exercises will be 2 minutes, 1.5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and 10 seconds drawings to develop students’ close observation of objects and develop better eye-hand coordination.
The students will have to use whole arm movements to render their drawings during timed sessions.
2. The students will use a flat easel brush to draw thin to wide, curved, vertical, horizontal, and diagonal linear brush strokes during timed exercises.
3. Students will mix primary, secondary, and/or tertiary colors with white paint in order to paint their selection of two fruits (grapes, oranges, limes, pears, and apples) as un-timed exercises to show value and volume in their painted fruit.
4. Students will mix primary, secondary, and/or tertiary colors with white paint to paint their fruit and other objects as un-timed exercises to show value and volume in their painted fruit and objects.
5. The students are to draw their still life arrangement in paint with reference to geometric shapes seen in their fruit and objects as a final drawing composition.
6. Once the students have rendered a satisfactory likeness of their still life objects, they will use values of paint to show volume and compose the likeness of their still life arrangement.
(Still Life Painting)
The students will apply their learning and understanding of the Color Wheel Unit to draw and paint their still life arrangement of vases, boxes, and fruit.
Impressionistic Style of Painting
Impressionism, a movement in painting that originated in France in the late 19th century. Impressionist painters were considered radical in their time because they broke many of the rules of picture-making set by earlier generations. They found many of their subjects in life around them rather than in history, which was then the accepted source of subject matter. Instead of painting an ideal of beauty that earlier artists had defined, the impressionists tried to depict what they saw at a given moment, capturing a fresh, original vision that was hard for some people to accept as beautiful. They often painted out of doors, rather than in a studio, so that they could observe nature more directly and set down its most fleeting aspects—especially the changing light of the sun.
In 1874 French art critic, Louis Leroy coined the term impressionist in a satirical review of a private exhibition of paintings by a group called The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc. The term impressionist struck Leroy as an appropriate description of the loose, inexact manner of painting of Claude Monet and several other painters in the exhibition.
Degas, Renoir, Paul Cézanne, or Armand Guillaumin, who also took part in the exhibition and are now classified as Impressionist painters.
The Impressionists held seven subsequent exhibitions between 1876 and 1886. What united this group was not style so much as a desire to gain independence from an annual government-sponsored exhibition in Paris called the Salon. To exhibit at the Salon, artists were required to submit work to a jury that applied outmoded standards in deciding which works were acceptable. Although most of the impressionists previously had work accepted by the Salon, they had also experienced rejection. They were especially indignant at the humiliating way in which the Salon had responded to the work of fellow painter Édouard Manet. Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863, Musée d'Orsay, Paris) was rejected by the official Salon of 1863, but shown instead at a special exhibition of rejected paintings (called the Salon des Refusés) in 1863. Critics responded with outrage to this painting, which shows two men clothed in contemporary dress seated at a picnic with a naked woman. At the time, nudes were an acceptable subject in allegorical or historical paintings, but not in scenes of everyday life. In fact, Manet had borrowed his composition from Italian Renaissance sources and reworked it in pointedly modern ways.
For the first historians of the movement, the landscapes of Monet and Renoir represented impressionism in its purest form. Their technique of applying paint in small dabs perfectly captured the flickering quality of sunlight, especially its reflections on water.
Many of the practices and objectives of the impressionists had precedents in earlier French painting of the 19th century. Most of the impressionists shared a belief in painting the unembellished truth of what they saw, and in this concern for realism they followed the tendencies of earlier French realists such as Gustave Courbet. They emulated French painter Camille Corot in his sensitivity to the effects of light in nature. They also learned from French landscape painters of the Barbizon School, many of whom practiced outdoor painting.
It was the novelty of their technique more than their subject matter that set the impressionists apart from their contemporaries. They rejected somber tones and a painstaking degree of finish that removed all traces of the artist’s hand. These were qualities demanded by the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), the institution that set the standards for French painting and organized the Salon. Instead of creating smoothly blended colors, the impressionists placed separate touches of vibrantly contrasting colors directly onto the canvas, sometimes without prior mixing on the palette, and allowed their brushstrokes to retain the liveliness and seeming spontaneity of a sketch. As a result their work appeared unfinished to many viewers, including the critic Leroy. Manet had encouraged this tendency in his paintings of the 1860s, in which he did away with the middle tones that would have eased the transition from lightest light to darkest dark. Instead, Manet set lights directly next to darks to create strikingly stark contrasts.
In seeking to capture the luminous effects of sunlight, the Impressionists used light colors and applied them onto a light or white ground (the canvas's initial coat) rather than the darker ground that was then conventional. The Impressionists worked quickly to preserve a feeling of spontaneity and directness. They often painted one color on top of another that was still wet, a practice that tends to blur contours and soften forms.
The Impressionists also put into practice new scientific theories about color: To enhance the intensity of colors in their paintings, they avoided black or earth colors for depicting shadows and substituted complementary colors. So, for instance, the shadowed underside of a red apple would be dappled with shades of green.
Each Impressionist had his or her individual way of applying their paint. The Impressionist preferred impasto methods of painting (thick, textural dabs of paint) to more traditional glazes (thin, transparent layers of paint).
Many impressionist paintings broke the Académie’s rules of composition. Rather than attempting to produce carefully constructed, permanent records of events or scenes, the Impressionist’ objective was to capture the fleeting moment, the optical sensation produced by a chance effect of weather, light, or movement. Their very choice of subject—often a fragment of nature with limited depth—countered the traditional representation of space in which the eye is led naturally from foreground to distance (background).
The Impressionistic art form may also be depicted through Polaroid Manipulation of photographed subjects for this lesson unit based on receiving Polaroid cameras.
4. Class Review: Throughout the lesson
Teacher assessment of students’ understanding that the round paint brush is for drawing and the flat paint brush is for painting within shapes and blending. Teacher assessment will also include students’ drawing performance using paintbrushes with paint and their ability to follow directions of their close observation of still life objects’ forms as related to geometric shapes in order to render their still life composition. The students are to show value in their paintings to show volume in their compositions.
5. Student Application of Skills: 30 Minutes
Student application of drawing exercises using paintbrushes and paint with eye-hand coordination while drawing the still life objects using paint.
The students are to continue to assess their ability on keeping their eyes on the contour of their still life objects’ form while drawing and painting their compositions in order to improve their drawing skills.
6. Assessment of Student Performance: Throughout the lesson
Student assessment will also be on students’ performance during lesson content, quizzes, and tests.
7. Closure/Homework: 10 Minutes
Teacher and students’ summary of lesson content and snapshot vocabulary.
Homework: The students are to read and study their copy of the Impressionist Still Life Paintings with reference to Principles of Design and Elements of Art Lesson Unit.
Art Teacher Resources:
ArtTalk, Rosalind Ragans, c. 1988, Glencoe Publishing Company
Complete Drawing Course, c. 1987, 1999 by Diagram Visual Information, Ltd., Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
Internet Still Life Compositions and Transparencies:
Drawing and Painting Materials:
Terry A. Dove
Art and Photography Instructor
Thompson Middle School
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