Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2nd Grade Art Lesson - Henri Rousseau

Buttercup and I like to do a lot of art projects in our homeschool and with my guidance, I let Buttercup choose the artists she wants to study. So off to the library we go in search of a book in The World's Greatest Artists series. Buttercup knew she wanted to learn more about Henri Rousseau (she was already familiar with his work). Much to our surprise, Rousseau is not one of the artists in the series. We did find another book about him that seemed geared toward children, so we checked that one out from the library. It turns out the book was more of a novel and while it did mention Rousseau it wasn't really what we wanted.

I turned to the internet for some information about Henri Rousseau and was able to come up with a pretty fun lesson plan for Buttercup.

Our Lesson Plan:
  • Research the Rousseau and his work
  • Find out where Rousseau is from, when he lived, what his artistic style is
  • Discuss with your child the life and works of the artist
  • Look at some of his/her art work on line
  • Choose a piece that your child would like to do on her/his own
  • With the appropriate materials in hand, let your child do her own artist inspired art work
  • If possible, visit a museum to see some of the artist's work in person.
Buttercup chose Tiger in a Tropical Storm.

We started out with three sheets of white paper. On the first one, Buttercup drew the backgroud scene, the trees, branches, and leaves.

She then colored that using oil pastels (presently her favorite medium). One the 2nd sheet of paper, Buttercup drew the tiger. And on the 3rd sheet, she drew the big leaves that are in front of the tiger.

We then put the whole thing together to make the tiger kind of pop out of the page while still being hidden by the big green bushes.

Here's a short biography about Henri Rousseau.

Henri Rousseau was a French painter born in 1844.
Rousseau was born to a poor family. His father’s debts even caused the family to lose their home at one point. Rousseau served in the army for four years before going on to become a customs officer at the edge of Paris. He worked until he was 49, painting on the weekends, until he could retire and focus fully on his art. He gave painting lessons, performed as a street musician, and did other odd tasks to earn enough money to live as he painted.

He was completely self-taught and this showed in his work. He wanted to paint flawless, realistic works but a naivety, a simplicity, persisted that he couldn’t shake. The traditionalist painters mocked him but he remained confident in his talent.

Many of Rousseau's paintings are depictions of tropical forests, fauna and flora. The problem is that Rousseau was never at any of the places he painted. All of his ideas came from books. This made his paintings unrealistic because, in his paintings, he uses animals in the same scene that would never be found in the same habitat. He also paints plants and fruit from different parts of the world together in one scene. For example, in Tiger attacking buffalo, Rousseau paints bananas growing upside down from trees.

All in all we had a lot of fun with this art lesson.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

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