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Lesson Plans


Drawing Still Life

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JudaOrlandi, Marilyn (Marilyn.JudaOrlandi)
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 08:55:00 +0000 (GMT)

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Hi Carol,

About subjects for still lifes....The items that you chose all involved
what's called "panneggio" in Italian. I don't know what it is called in
English but it is the way material drapes, the folds, chiaroscuro etc....I
always make that a lesson on its own ....first we see examples of
"panneggio" from all the great artists of the past,....as well as examples
from the present such as Sciltian....I am sure you can find many....

We start with just plain white cotton material, such as sheeting or pillow
cases. They work in groups and bunch it or drape it in the middle of the
table....then working on gray paper, with charcoal and white conte or chalk
, they try to pick out the shapes of the darks...by squinting...and doing
that in charcoal....and then picking out the light shapes and doing that in
conte or white chalk.....the colored paper makes the middle tone, so in the
end you really get volume.....They are always amazed how little "white"
there actually is in white material......in fact the highlights are a small
percentage of the medium and dark tones.....
After that exercise....we then do they same thing with a piece of
striped material....the stripes give a sense of direction when the material
is folded....and they begin to see and feel the direction the material takes
as it is folded......
After that we go on to regular clothes items....which at this point can
be colored but preferably not with patterns........then patterned material
and finally a clothes item or piece of material draped around a person.....
Its all very gradual.....I think you pushed them in the deep end all at
once with all those clothing items....try again in a more gradual way....

Just an interesting note on still lifes.....I had my first graders set up a
still life to draw from various items I had brought in....Enrico, who is a
very lively kid, just didn't like the idea....maybe because in Italian its
called Natura Morta, which translates literally "Dead Nature"! Well, he
did his still life, just to please me, but he made it very tiny on a small
table in the middle of a large piece of paper....then he proceeded to fill
in all the space around the "room" with live things....an ant with seven
body segments and four legs, a centipede, two lizards, butterflies,
dragonflies, birds, snakes, unidentifiable insects.....well the whole
picture was crawling with LIFE.....He got his message across!!!! I learned
still life is not a good subject for first graders....!!!!

Ciao,
Marilyn Juda-Orlandi


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