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Friday, August 15, 2008

Art : Cimabue and the Value of Copying

In art education, I believe that there is value in copying great works of art. In the process, one can pick up on the artistic styles and perhaps understand the thoughts of the artist as he/she painted that painting. This thought process is a good model when one ultimately produces one's own original creation. Here's what I mean.

We were studying the Gothic artist Cimabue this couple of weeks. I chose this artist because he is the father of Gothic Art. Here is where we are going to start our chronological study of art history.

One of Cimabue's work is an alter piece called "Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels".
I can hear your thoughts. You must be thinking I must be crazy choosing such a serious piece. However, here's how I bring the subject down to the level of a seven-year old. These are some questions (found in our Artistic Pursuit book) that my boys were asked :
How many angels are in the picture?
How many saints are in the picture? - Here we talk about symmetry in a painting.
Can you guess who those saints are? - Here we side tracked into a discussion about Michealangelo's David. We discussed how we know that the statue was David. This led to an interesting discussion about how each of us would like to be remembered and represented in drawings.
Has Cimbanue chosen a natural setting for Jesus and his mother?
From what you know about their lives, did they ever sit on a throne?
- Here we discussed a little about the emphasis on Mary in the Roman catholic religion.
In the Gothic period, everything in a painting has meaning. What could the throne suggest? - Here we talk about how an artist have to use images to suggest ideas.

We read that it was common during those time to paint REAL GOLD on backgrounds. So my boys had fun painting the glittery gold background as they completed their reproduction.

Here is the master's piece and my boy's careful reproduction:

It took them 3 sittings to complete this painting. The first sitting was to draw. The second sitting to paint the foreground, and third sitting the background. It was a true display of perseverance!

The next artist we will study is Giotto. He is the student of Cimabue. Interestingly, he too copied his masters work with slight variations; adding his own style in the process.

Visit Rumphius Webpage Art to learn more about how we approach Art in our homeschool.

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