>From EYEWITNESS ART (Dorling Kindersley) the book PERSPECTIVE. This is an
excellent resource that covers theory and techniques from the Renaissance
to Pop Art. Some really neat photos of measuring devices, as well as art
Also, there is a video series called "Behind the Scenes" (University of
Nebraska, Lincoln). The first video deals with the illusion of depth. The
program hosts are Penn and Teller, and the featured artist is David
Hockney. My fifth and sixth graders loved it. There is a teacher's guide
that accompanies the series, which has related curriculum (math, social
studies, science) activities.
Finally, here is a lesson (in abbreviated form) that I did with my third
graders this year. We view Van Gogh's "The Bedroom at Arles," discuss the
artist (Art History), use the inquiry method to describe as much as they
can identify in the picture -- usually objects to begin with, but also
mood. Then I start leading them into the illusion of depth observations
(i.e., things get smaller, things get higher, things overlap). We used a
ruler to compare the size of the chairs (Math).
I demonstrate how to draw a Van Gogh corner -- vertical line (mid paper) to
the top of the paper, horizontal line to the side of the paper, and a
diagonal line to a bottom corner of the paper.
The fun begins when I tell them they are going to redesign their own
bedrooms. Their drawing must include a bed, drawn in the manner of Van
Gogh (they struggle a little here and I demonstrate again at the board),
and can include any other objects, using the 3 previously discussed
We used watercolor to paint the big areas: walls, floor, bed, other
furniture. When dry, they completed the picture by using markers to
add/color in smaller details. Although this took three sessions, the
objectives were met as the students: learned about an artist, learned
another technique to improve their drawing skills, gained more confidence
in working with and controling watercolors, used their creative ideas, and
had fun in the process.