Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ever been obsessed with an obscure artist?

Well I have! For years, in School Arts or Arts and Activities, I would see mentions of an artist by the name of Charles Burchfield that intrigued me. Turns out, Mr. Burchfield was a Buckeye from Ohio and so am I! That's where the coincidence ends though, because he became a noted American landscape painter and I, humbly, a teacher of children.........Ha! What intrigued me about Mr. B is this, what the heck was he painting and why did it move me so? His subject matter is largely landscapes and bleak, urban areas. The uniting factor is the way he controls the atmosphere-it literally vibrates in his landscapes with a symbolism he created and each painting makes you feel the rain, the heat, the snow and wind.

 I have collected many images of his work (thank you Google!) and have compiled a binder for each of the 7-8 tables in my artrooms. Here is my dilemna:How do I design a lesson about Mr. B, what grade level would it best serve, and would watercolor work best or tempera? I know there are some great opportunities here for teaching color mixing (hence, the tempera dilemna)and most primary classes have a unit on weather, so why am I stuck? If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!


Mr. E said...

where in Ohio are you from....we may have talked about this...but I forget?!?

Phyl said...

I have adored and respected Burchfield's work since I first started teaching, when a friend bought me a magnificent book of his work. I'm a mess with watercolors, absolutely useless, but my old friend is an immensely talented watercolorist and that's how he knew of Burchfield. After I was given the book, I had occasion to drive through Buffalo (NY)with another art teacher, on our way to Pittsburgh (long story, but this was probably 30 years ago). Anyhow, at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo there was (and I believe there still is) a magnificent collection of Burchfield's work. If you are ever in Buffalo, stop and take a look-see!

Phyl said...

So I didn't answer your question - a Burchfield lesson... hmmm. I think the artwork has a wonderful rhythmic quality, and then there's all those sun rays. I would do something with repeating rhythms and radiating sunshine and I'd probably use watercolor but not with washes, more of a drawing with brush sort of thing, or else watered down tempera. Doing something with the weather connection and sensations of light and wind could be cool. I know, I'm pretty vague here, but I know you'll come up with something awesome. Perhaps hand out landscape photos (calendar pages) and have them draw directly with a brush to interpret the photos, particularly emphasizing the rhythm, reflections, and light. What do you think?

Pat said...

Ted-I was born in Springfield but moved to CA when I was three.

Phyl-YOU ROCK! I can totally see the kids working from my thousands of landscape calendar photos, like sketching with watercolor using less water like you mentioned. I am so stoked and ready to try this. I'll be sure to post before, during and after. Thanks so much and it's great to know that you appreciate his artwork too!

Miss said...

I echo Phyl in that I would use watered down tempera. I use the tempera discs with my younger grades and they are perfect as you can add as much or as little water directly to them to adjust the colour. I googled his works and it seems he tackles all of the seasons- you could have your kids choose a different season to represent, and like Phyl said, use old landcsape calendar pages to refer to. Or now, in the winter, have them do a snowy lanscape painting with his works as inspiration? Thanks for introducing me to this new artist- I had never heard of him before.