Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 2–Part Lesson
Two 45-minute sessions, one to three class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Stories in Art Contents


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California State Standards (RTF, 237KB)

Lesson Overview

Students will observe how artists used continuous and sequential narratives in three different works of art. They will focus on color, and then choose whether they want to illustrate one main character in a continuous narrative in a landscape setting or an architectural setting, or in a sequential narrative (similar to a comic strip). Students will then illustrate their narrative story and later write the story.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• observe continuous and sequential narratives in works of art.
• create and color a drawing depicting a story with characters as a continuous narrative in a landscape or architectural setting, or as a sequential narrative in four frames.
• write the story depicted in their continuous or sequential narrative drawing.

Materials

• Reproduction of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St. John the Baptist by Fra Bartolommeo
• Reproduction of The Story of Joseph by Biagio d'Antonio
• Reproduction of Scenes from the Life of Constantine by Master of the Brussels Romuléon
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St. John the Baptist
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about The Story of Joseph
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about Scenes from the Life of Constantine
• Student Handout: "Create a Story: Landscape Setting"
• Student Handout: "Create a Story: Architectural Setting"
• Student Handout: "Create a Story: Four Frames"
• Pencils and/or pens
• Paper (8½" x 11"; ruled)
• Art Stix®
• Watercolor pencils
• Niji Waterbrushes or paint brushes
• Jars of water

Lesson Steps

Part 1

1. Ask students to think about some of their favorite stories. Ask them to share with a partner. Ask them to think about how they learned the story (read it, heard it, etc.). Explain to the students that stories can be told in many different ways.

2. Tell students that they are going to see three types of creative storytelling that artists used. Explain that each of the images includes characters, a plot, and a setting. In both of the paintings and the manuscript (books written and decorated completely by hand), the characters are repeated within the same image (wearing the same clothes), sometimes within the same setting. Ask students: Why do you think the artist did this? (Each artist wanted to show the plot of the story by having the characters wear the same color clothing.)

3. Direct students to the reproduction of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St. John the Baptist. Explain that the artist Fra Bartolommeo shows Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus twice. They are seen in the foreground (front) of the painting. Ask students the following questions:
• Where can you find them again?
• What is going on in this picture?

4. Direct students to the reproduction of The Story of Joseph. Explain to students that the artist Biagio d'Antonio takes the idea of repeating the same characters even further. The main character Joseph is seen over and over again in the painting. Prompt students with the following questions:
• Can you find Joseph in the image?
• Where do you see him again?
• Why do you think the artist wanted to paint Joseph many times within this architectural setting?

5. Direct student to the reproduction of Scenes from the Life of Constantine. Explain to students that books from a long time ago were often lavishly illustrated, as seen in the artwork. Tell students that this page illustrates the scenes from the life of Emperor Constantine (an emperor is a kind of ruler or king). He is in two of the images. Prompt students with the following questions:
• Can you find Emperor Constantine? (Hint: Look for his crown.)
• What is going on within these four small pictures?
• How is this illustration different from the paintings you just looked at? (The story is told in four separate frames, like a comic book.)

Part 2

1. Tell students it's their turn! Print out the handouts on watercolor paper and pass around the three handouts to the class: "Create a Story: Landscape Setting," "Create a Story: Architectural Setting," and "Create a Story: Four Frames."

2. Have each student choose and take one handout—either the landscape setting, architectural setting, or four separate frames handout. Explain to them that they will create a story on the handout.

3. Pass out the ruled paper and pencils and/or pens, and instruct students to write down their choice of setting on the paper.

4. Have students identify the main character in their story. Tell them they will illustrate this main character more than once in their picture. Remind students that the character should wear the same thing, so it should be the same color throughout their story. Have them write down the name of the main character on the ruled paper.

5. Next, tell students to decide what part of the plot they would like to illustrate. They can show two parts of the plot by drawing the character twice, as in the Fra Bartolommeo painting. If they show four parts of the plot, they would be using the comic book template and draw four separate stories. If they illustrate even more parts of the plot, they would draw the character many times, as Biagio d'Antonio did in The Story of Joseph. Have students jot down ideas about what parts of the plot they want to illustrate.

6. Pass out supplies to the students: pencils, Art Stix®, watercolor pencils, Niji Waterbrushes or paint brushes, and containers of water.

7. Tell students it's time to draw and paint! Have them use the Art Stix and crayons to draw the characters in action on their student handout. Tell them to repeat their characters at least once on the same page to show the passage of time through their actions. Remind students that the characters will wear the same color clothing from beginning to end.

8. After drawing the characters and their actions, tell students to work on the setting. Have them color the setting with the watercolor pencils, adding water with the Niji Waterbrushes, or paint with the watercolors. Tell them they can paint right over the characters because the watercolor will not stick to the waxy surfaces made by the crayons and Art Stix. This technique is called "wax resist."

9. When each student has finished their drawing, instruct them to write the narrative story of their drawing on one sheet of ruled paper.

Rest on the Flight/Bartolommeo
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St. John the Baptist, Fra Bartolommeo, about 1509

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their
• understanding of continuous and sequential narratives in works of art.
• drawing depicting a story with characters wearing the same clothes as a continuous narrative in a landscape or architectural setting, or as a sequential narrative in four frames.
• written story depicted in their continuous or sequential narrative drawing.

Extensions

Have students display their finished drawings around the classroom. Have them present their drawings and read their stories aloud to the class. This may be done over several class periods.