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The Artist’s Studio, 1666-67
Templeton Elementary School Art Literacy Program
Johannes Vermeer Bio Presentation
(It may help to put the two pictures up on the docucam so the students can see the details.)
Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch artist who lived from 1632 to 1675. He lived in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. He specialized in painting indoor scenes of middle class Dutch life, and almost all of his paintings are set in the same two rooms of his own house, often showing the same people. He was not very well known while he was alive, and for the next 200 years no one really knew about his work, until it was rediscovered, and he became known as one of the greatest Dutch painters.
Vermeer is thought of as a master of light. He studied very closely the way light looked as it fell on his subjects, and how it was reflected. His attention to detail made his paintings far more realistic than what other artists were doing at that time. The people in his paintings are usually near a window, and he shows the way the light shines in onto them, and the shadows around them.
In his painting called “The Milkmaid” he shows how the bright morning light is shining in the window and lighting up the white wall, and he carefully shows how the white wall is reflected in the shiny metal container hanging on the wall.
Vermeer’s painting called “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is one of his most famous works. See how he shows the light shining in onto her face? The shape of her nose is really just shown by the shadow it casts on the dark side, and the back of her head is all lost in the shadow. You can just see one glint of light reflecting off of her pearl earring, but that’s enough to know it’s there.
Vermeer uses light to show the shape of the girl’s head. We know that her head covering is bright blue, but Vermeer paints the spot on top where the light is brightest with pale blue. As it curves around her head it gets darker, and where the shape of her head curves out of the light, the blue gets lost in the black shadows.
Today we won’t be trying something as difficult as a face, but we will learn about how to shade a drawing with pencil, and how to draw simple shapes with light shining on them.
Templeton Elementary School Art Literacy Program
Vermeer Pencil Drawing Project:
How to draw and shade simple shapes
Presenters, first thing, please sign onto the Art Lit cart sign-out sheet on the wall. That way we know where the art carts are at any time. Next, please check the Art Lit cart for the supplies you will need. The presentation folders and the tools should all be kept on the carts. You will need to take both a stack of buff drawing paper and a pack of narrow white strips of paper from the box on the counter. Also take the set of pre-printed labels for the finished artwork with you. Presenters will put on the stickers this time. These are the supplies you will need:
On the cart:
Bag of 6B soft drawing pencils (30)
60 sheets of buff drawing paper
30 narrow strips of white paper
Pre-printed labels for finished work
Blending stumps (30)
Pencil sharpener (1)
White chalk (30)
In the classroom, set up the kids’ places for them. (Before setting up do a quick check that none of pencil points are too short to use. They don’t need to be sharp, but usable.) Each student starts out with a narrow strip of white paper, a 6B pencil, an eraser, and a blending stump. Don’t hand out the buff paper or the chalk until later.
There may be a need for pencil sharpening during this lesson. We can’t get around that. But let the kids know they don’t need a sharp pencil. The more we sharpen the nice drawing pencils, the faster they will be used up.
(Things you might want to say to the kids are in purple.)
Put the page that says “shading practice” on the overhead.
Today we are going to start out by practicing how to draw different shades of gray with pencil. Take your pencil and draw a long skinny box on your paper, like one of the ones in the example. Now divide it into 8 little boxes in a row. Next, try to color the boxes in with the pencil so they go from being totally white at one end of the line, to very black at the other end.
You can do it any way you like. You can make lots of little lines, or you can draw very lightly, then press harder as you go along. You can try drawing with the side of the pencil lead. The idea is to learn to use the pencil to make different shades of darkness. If you want to, you can use your shading stump to blend the pencil marks and make them look smooth.
This is a very important drawing skill to learn, because artists need to be able to shade their drawings with all different shades of gray.
Drawing a cube
When all the kids seem to be done with the shading practice, hand out one sheet of buff paper and the chalk.
The next thing we are going to do is to learn to draw a cube and to shade it so it looks solid, and as if it has light shining on it.
(Put the diagram “How to show light on simple shapes” onto the docucam.)
show light on simple shapes
Here are some simple pictures of solid shapes with light shining on them. Notice how the side facing the light is shown as white, and the side facing away from the light is shown as the darkest tone. That is the side that’s in shadow. The parts of the shape in between the light and the shadow are shown as a medium tone. To show light on an object you also need to show the shadow the light is casting behind the object. That is shown as a medium dark tone.
Now everyone put your name on the back of your paper, and we’ll draw a cube. (We’ve been getting lots of pictures without names – so this is important.) We will be putting two drawings on this paper, so leave room for the second one.
Put the “How to draw a cube” instructions on the docucam.
draw a shaded cube
2. Draw 3 lines going back from the corners.
3. Draw 2 straight lines to show the top and back of cube.
4. Shade the back of the cube with the darkest tone.
the front side of the cube with the lightest tone.
the outline of the cube’s shadow. Just
use three lines.
in the shadow with your medium tone.
the highlight on the top of the cube with the white chalk.
Go through the instructions slowly, describing what you see happening. Tell the kids they can use the blending stumps to make the tones look smooth if they want to, but they don’t have to. They can always erase and start over if something is wrong. And tell the kids they can use the white chalk to color the lightest part of the cube. That is called the Highlight.
Drawing a sphere
Hold up the picture of the apple.
Ask the kids what shape it is. Hopefully someone will say “sphere”.
Show them the egg picture too, which is not quite a sphere.
Artists learn to draw and shade simple shapes because that helps them to be able to draw and shade all sorts of things. If you can draw a sphere, you can probably draw an apple.
Change to the “How to draw a sphere” instructions on the docucam. A sphere is harder than a cube because it doesn’t have flat sides. The change in tone from the light side to the dark side happens in a more blended way. When you show the highlight on the top with white chalk, it will be a small spot instead of a large white area like the cube.
Go through the instructions at a pace the class can keep up with.
some curved lines around the sphere to show roundness.
the bottom of the sphere with your darkest tone.
the middle of the sphere with your middle tone.
the top of the sphere with your lightest tone, but leave the very top open.
an oval outline of the shadow around the bottom of the sphere.
in the shadow with your medium tone.
the brightest spot on the top of the sphere with white chalk.
Are we done, or do we want to do more?
Some kids will get through this project super quickly. Please challenge them by having them do more shapes on their papers. Or have them do large ones if they made them very small the first time. Try to impress on them that artists do not become good at drawing without lots and lots of practice.
For the younger kids, if this lesson is frustrating or takes a long time, you can end here.
If you have more time and the kids aren’t too wiggly, go on and try the next page of shapes.
Drawing cylinders, cones and pyramids
Hand out a second sheet of buff paper, and put the “how to” page up on the docucam. These instructions have fewer steps, so the kids need to think about it a little more and remember what they learned doing cubes and spheres. Remind them that they need to use different shades of gray to make the different parts of their drawings show up.
Added challenge if needed: Have kids turn over their paper and draw a real life object in one of these shapes.
Ideas: a battery, an ice cream cone, a pyramid in the desert, a grain silo on a farm, any round piece of fruit, a baseball, a boxy building.
How to draw more shaded shapes
– cylinder, cone, pyramid
1. 1. Draw the
outline. 2. Shade the form. 3.
Outline the shadow.
4. 4. Color in
the shadow. 5. Highlight the lightest part with white.
PLEASE count the pencils, erasers and blending stumps. Have the kids look for anything missing. We have limited supplies and the later classes will not have enough if we lose many.
When clean up is over, please put the sticky labels on the pictures. For classes that did two pictures per kid, choose one to label. (As I type this I do not know if they will have kids’ names on them or not – if they do, careful to get the right ones on.) This time you can leave the artwork with the teachers to send home. If any look particularly nice, please take pictures of them for us to save.
Thank you so much for helping to teach the kids art this year! You are what makes the program possible.