Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Artist Study with Degas

Along with our 6 week Music study of Tchaikovsky, we are also studying The paintings, Sketches and sculptures of Edgar Degas. This is a perfect Artist to be studying with Tchaikovsky, because they are both directly related to Classical Ballet.

In viewing works by Degas while listening to the music of Tchaikovsky, you can almost see Degas' ballerinas come to life.

Some Of Tchaikovsky's more famous Ballets are:

  • The Nutcracker Suite
  • Swan Lake
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • And Romeo an Juliet

    All Make for beautiful selections of music in which to begin your studies.

    Some of our Past Degas Selections have been:

  • the Dance Class 1875-76
  • The Star
  • Ballet dancers

    Our Chosen Picture for this particular study was:

Singer in Green 1884-85 Pastel on paper.

In this study we chose to focus on recreating the look of pastels.

I have a few younger little ones, so instead of working with the pastel medium, I chose to recreate the look with a medium that the kids are extremely familiar with....crayons.
This method is called the "crayon-resist".
All you will need is:
  • Crayola crayons (vibrant colors)
  • watercolors
  • paintbrushes
  • watercolor paper
  • a cup of water
  • painting smock
Have your child first sketch their work on the paper. A soft outline sketch is all that is needed. Any detail will be added in with the crayons. It is important to note that the sketch need not be perfect. As with any "interpretation" of an artist's work, It will ultimately take on a life of its own... and it will be a life created by the unique hands of your child.

The most important goal of this activity is for your child to commit the Artist's picture to memory, so that it can always be on display in the Gallery of the "mind's eye". It is in capturing the essence of a painting, that we establish a deep and meaningful relationship with it.

After your child's Sketch is complete, have them go over their sketch outline in crayon. From here on out, it is important that your child color in detail with a Heavy hand. In order for the crayon to "resist," the paper most be covered in wax. Have the child color in their Sketch with colors and direction similar to that of the artists. Have them Examine the pattern of the pastel colors, and imitate it to the best of their ability (with a heavy hand).

Once all coloring has been completed, you child is ready to paint with watercolors. You will notice in Degas' Pastel works, that often times his pastels were layered . Have your child choose the paints that best match the layered effect of the pastel. Paint over the crayon with nice heavy strokes. The Crayon will resist the watercolors where the wax is heavy, and seep into the paper where the wax was lacking. This will ultimately create the layered effect and Chalkiness of the pastel work.

Here are a few samples of our work:


"Belle"- age 10yrs

"Little Sparty"- Age 6 yrs

(He opted to Draw a Bus)

Hope you enjoy this activity as much as we did!

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"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it
down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by
acting."- Henry David Thoreau.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
-Proverbs 22:6