Saturday, July 18, 2009

Judith Leyster

Judith Jans Leyster (also Leijster) (1609 - 1660) was a Dutch artist known for her genre scenes, portraits and still life paintings.

Leyster was born in Haarlem, the eighth child of a brewer and clothmaker.
By 1633, she was a member of the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke, one of only two women (the other was a house painter) who gained entrance into the group. Within two years of her entry into the guild, she had taken on three male apprentices. Check out the wikipedia article for an interesting anecdote about her students and rivalry with her contemporary, Frans Hals:
In 1636, she married another artist, Jan Miense Molenaer and they moved to Amsterdam. They had five children, only two of whom survived to adulthood.
Most of Leyster's dated works are from 1629-1635, which coincides with the period before she had children. There are only two known pieces painted after 1635; two illustrations in a book about tulips from 1643 and a portrait from 1652.
Today, art lovers can purchase a tulip variety, pictured at right, named after Judith Leyster.
In 1893, The Louvre had purchased a Frans Hals only to find that it had been in fact painted by Judith Leyster. A dealer had changed the monogram that she used as a signature.
Leyster painted genre scenes, or scenes from everyday life, often depicting quiet scenes of women at home, as well as portraits and still lifes.
Any age student will enjoy doing a project in the style of Judith Leyster.
Project ideas: Do a self-portrait in the style of Judith Leyster. Pose in front of a mirror holding some objects that represent your interests, such as a book, bat and baseball or a musical instrument. Lightly sketch yourself with pencil, filling the whole page. Use the medium of your choice to add color: oil pastels, crayons, colored pencils or watercolor paint.
Take some objects from your kitchen and arrange them with some flowers for a still life. Lightly sketch the objects with a pencil, drawing them big to fill up the space. Add color to the still life with the medium of your choice.
Try a genre scene. Sketch some members of your family in a scene from every day life, such as playing a game together, preparing a meal, or watching television. Try to fill the whole page. Add color with the medium of your choice.
source for biographical information: wikipedia

Friday, July 17, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (1887 - 1986) was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She demonstrated an aptitude for art at a young age and went on to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York's Art Student League.

In 1912, Georgia took a teaching job at the Chatham Episcopal Institute. A year later, she applied for and was hired for a teaching position as a drawing supervisor in Texas. But after years of teaching and having almost no time for herself, she decided it was time to devote herself to producing art.

Some of her early drawings were shown by the photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, in his New York gallery. In 1923 O'Keeffe married Stieglitz and began to paint the large, magnified views of flowers for which she is most famous.

O'Keeffe lived and worked in New Mexico for many years where she found inspiration in the dry bones and geology of the desert landscapes.

Late elementary students that are studying American history will be interested in the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.

Project idea: Look at photographs of flowers in magazines and calendars. Choose one and lightly sketch it on watercolor paper. Enlarge the flower so that it fills the entire page and goes off the edges. Use watercolor paint to add color. Add definition and shading to the flower with watercolor pencils.

source for biographical information:

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, was a popular Mexican painter. She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by the indigenous cultures of Mexico. Many of her works are self-portraits that symbolically expressed her own pain. Kahlo was married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

Her Jewish Hungarian-German father arrived in Mexico in 1891 and married Frida's mother, a devout Catholic of indigenous and Spanish descent.

Kahlo contracted polio at six, which left her right leg thinner than the left, a fact that Kahlo disguised by wearing long, colorful skirts. Some believe that she also suffered from spina bifida.

In 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus when it collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries in the accident, breaking her spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, leg, and foot. An iron handrail pierced her abdomen, causing permanent injury to her reproductive organs.

While Kahlo was bedridden during her recovery, she began to paint.

Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she suffered extreme pain throughout the rest of her life.

This constant pain informed Kahlo's artwork, and was frequently portrayed symbolically in her paintings.

Middle school students and older can understand the themes in Kahlo's self-portraits.

Project idea: Look at and discuss selected examples of Kahlo's self-portraits, including Self-Portrait with Monkeys, 1940. Use multi-cultural construction paper to cut out the head and shoulders for a self-portrait. Add hair and clothing. Cut large construction paper leaves to fill in the background. Students may add other details to their portrait to represent their lives, such as pets or symbols of their interests.

Source for biographical information: Wikipedia

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grandma Moses

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961) better known as "Grandma Moses", was an American folk, or self-taught, artist.

Moses began painting in her seventies after she was unable to continue her work with embroidery due to arthritis. Her paintings were displayed in a drugstore window when they were discovered by an art dealer.

She painted themes that were familiar to her, scenes depicting the rural life of common folk. Many of her paintings show scenes from long ago, such as women gathered together to prepare a holiday meal or children chasing the Thanksgiving turkey in a barnyard. These paintings provide a visual record of the day-to-day activities of early twentieth-century farm life.

Grandma Moses was a prolific painter, producing over 3600 canvasses in the last thirty years of her life. Before her fame, she would charge $2 for a small painting and $3 for a large. Some of her paintings have sold for over a million dollars in recent years. Her winter paintings are reminiscent of some of the known winter paintings of Peiter Bruegel, the Elder.

Primary-aged students or students studying American history might especially enjoy the work of Grandma Moses.

Project idea: Think of a time when you get together with family or friends. Perhaps it is for a wedding, holiday meal, birthday or church potluck. Imagine who would be there, what types of food you would eat, what kinds of activities you would do together, etc. Use markers and crayons to draw the event in the style of Grandma Moses.
source for biographical information: Wikipedia

Why I'm Here...

The purpose of this blog is to provide educators with information about women artists that they might want to introduce to their students.

During the month of March, which is Women's History Month, I try to teach a unit on one female artist with each grade level. This would include presenting some background information on the artist and then doing an art project with them that reflects the style of the artist.

I am an art teacher with the Harlem Consolidated Schools in Machesney Park, Illinois, USA.