CHILDREN IN ART -
Reading" a Painting - Ways to Enjoy Art
- The Sunny Side of the Street, 1950,
American (1901-1973), The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Reproduction print.
|Here are some ideas of things to
look for in the print. The children will help you
"read" the story of the street depicted.
- Chalk on the sidewalk and street for games
- Hockey on skates
- Garbage Cans
- Fire Escapes
- TV antennae
- Child in wheelchair
- Bridge in background
- Man in foreground might be blind
- Woman with baby all dressed up.
- The picture has many sounds that the artist wants
you to hear.
|Philip Evergood was
born in new York City in 1901, educated in England; art
education there and in New York and Paris. He exhibited
Biblical paintings in New York in 1931. The Depression
affected him deeply; he changed his subjects to life's
social problems, racial discrimination and political
oppression. not a complete or lasting change as he often
taught at universities in New York, Iowa, Minnesota and
elsewhere and received many awards for his paintings.
- Dwellings, Ordsall Lane, Salford, 1927, Lawrence Stephen (L.S.)
English (1887-1976), , Reproduction print.
|This picture is included as a possible
comparison with "Sunny Side of the Street".
The children could suggest other names for the Salford
picture. Would "Sunny Side of the Street" be an
appropriate name for the English street picture? Suggest
reasons for the grayness in the picture. Is it fog or
industrial pollution or both? Does the grayness suggest silence? What
else makes this a more silent picture? Would you like to
live in this city? Why? How do the massive, dark buildings
make you feel? Can you guess why the artist placed many
children standing alone in the street instead of playing
- Breezing Up (a Fair Wind), 1876, Winslow Homer,
American (1836-1910), oil (61.5x97cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC , Reproduction print.
|There are 3 boys and a man in the sailboat and
they have been fishing. The water is rough and choppy. The
boys seem tired after a long day. Look at all the shades of
blue used to convey a windy, cloudy day. This was painted in
the early 1900s. The name "Gloucester" appears on the
sailboat - which is a town on the coast of Massachusetts,
north of Boston. There are many commercial and sport
fishermen in Gloucester today. These people were out for
sport fishing and might be headed in with their dinner.
They'll be wet, cold and salty, and probably very hungry.
- Girl Holding Rattle, c.1835 , Erastus Salisbury
Field, American (1805-1900), oil, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art
Collection, Williamsburg, VA Reproduction print.
|Erastus Salisbury Field, the artist of this
primitive painting was a Massachusetts native. he was
largely self-taught except for 3 months of study with Samuel
F B Morse in 1824. his early work consisted mainly of
portraits for which he received as much as $18 each. In
1831, he married Phoebe Gilmore, an amateur artist who
painted under the name of P.B. Field. from 1842 to 1848, the
Fields lived in New York City where Erastus worked as a
daguerreotyper. In 1848 the couple returned to
Massachusetts. There, after the death of his wife in 1859,
Field turned to Biblical and mythological subjects.
|American Folk Painting
American Folk Painting, like other forms of folk art,
is that type of work characterized by an artistic
innocence which distinguishes it from the more formal
decorative and fine arts. With its great charm and
genuine appeal, folk or primitive painting is a vital
contributor to our cultural history, for it captured on
canvas a way of life now gone.
The first colonial painters imitated the works by
Dutch and English artists. Even by the time of the
Revolution, few American artists had any academic
training. Consequently, many of the works they produced
display a lack of emphasis, are weak in organization and
composition and combine flat, unshaded form with patches
of bright color.
Since only the wealthy could afford the services of a
professionally trained artist, most Americans were
satisfied with the work of craftsmen painters or
portraitists with little or no education in the field.
These itinerant painters, who often traveled from door
to door urging people to "preserve their
features" were called Limners. The term is taken
from the Latin luminare, which means to light up
These limners usually got their start in the art
world by working under a craftsman such as a sign
painter, house painter, coach painter or gilder. During
the summer these men and women would close their shops
and travel; often doing a likeness or portrait for board
and lodging or producing a landscape and sketches for an
affluent householder at some vacation spa.
Although the folk artists might be able to produce a
good likeness, or at least one which pleased their
patrons, they usually found detailed anatomy and linear
perspective beyond their technical skills. the subjects
were usually seated or standing amidst identifying
symbols or attributes; fans and flowers for ladies;
swords for soldiers; instruments for musicians; and
dolls and hobbyhorses for children.
Due to the frequent use of the same jewelry and
wardrobes in many paintings, a legend developed that the
wandering artists painted bodies and backgrounds of
portraits in the off season and just added heads when
the commission was awarded. There is no evidence to
support this theory; in fact, there is much to
contradict it. The uncompleted sketches of the period
show heads without bodies, not bodies without heads. it
is also known that the artists carried props of jewelry
and clothing which most likely accounts for the
similarities in wardrobe.
American folk painting reached its peak of popularity
after 1800 when the rising middle class of the new
nation arrived at the point of self-consciousness where
its members desired to express pride in their new status
and their accomplishments. new England, especially Massachusetts
and Connecticut, was the first area where large numbers
of paintings were produced. This was a populous region
with an affluent middle class as well as a center of
strong craft tradition. Later, however, as the
population pushed westward, Limners could be found at
work in new York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and
In 1839 the daguerreotype was developed. This
introduction of the photographic image led to steady
decline of limner art. After 1850, painted portraits
once again became a luxury commissioned by the very
wealthy and executed by professionals.
- Mrs. Freake and Baby Mary, 1674, unknown Limner artist,
Worcester Art Museum, MA
- I and the Village, 1911,
Marc Chagall, Russian
(1887-1985), Museum of Modern Art, NY Reproduction print.
|Like a dream or memory, I and the Village is a
jumble of images that overlap and fade into one another. a
man and a cow stand almost nose to nose, a woman milks
another cow, and around them are some topsy-turvy houses and
people, and a plant. these seemingly unconnected confusing
images were taken from life in the village where Chagall
Chagall was born to a religious Jewish family in a small
Russian village. When he was 23, he moved to Paris where he
painted some of his best-known works, including "I and
the village". In this painting Chagall looks back
fondly on the village he had just left. The painting doesn't
show the village in the usual way but is more like the
traditional stories of Jewish storytellers who can weave the
simplest event into a tale full of twists and turns. These
tales become magical worlds of their own.
The farm animals, plant, church and the villagers flow
together to create a single, solid picture of village life.
the circular curing lines seem to suggest the passage of
time and changing of the seasons.
Many artists like to use children as subjects for their
works. This year we will be looking at many different kinds of art
almost all of the art will feature children. Some of the works
will be very old, some will be fairly new. People have been making
art in many ways for thousands of years. Some of the art we share
with you will depict rural scenes, some will depict city life -
most will show you children.
Today most families have a camera and often fill an album with
family snapshots. Sometimes people have paintings or drawings of
their families done by artists as well. Some artists make a living
by painting portraits (paintings of people usually showing their
faces). A family is usually dressed in fine clothing and posed
when portraits are done.
Other artists paint children in a way that captures a feeling
of a place, or time, or activity. Today we are going to look
at some of these paintings in a special way. We are going to
"read" the paintings. (Note: be sure to tell the
children that the prints you show them are reproductions of the
First graders are just learning to read. "Reading" a
painting is easy - you don't even have to know the alphabet! All
you have to do is look. You can keep questions in mind as we are
When you hold up a reproduction print, you must first introduce
the class to it and solicit contributions by guiding the class
with questions. The methods below are ideas and you are not
limited to them. remember as you discover all the details with the
children, keep the them alive - Children Captured on Canvas.
Summary of methods for reading a painting :
|Use your senses - touch, smell, hear and taste, as well as
|Place the painting in history - compare lifestyles.|
|Learn something about the artist.|
|Does the painting tell a story?|
|Does the painting express a feeling or mood? How does it
make YOU feel?|