Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5th Graders Compare Grant Wood and Chuck Close

 Fifth Grade students are extremely curious and interested in any type of art history; it seemed like the right time to introduce them to two successful American artists who lived at very different times.  Chuck Close is a contemporary artist who has been featured in books as well as on TV enjoying success as a modern/abstract portrait painter while Grant Wood was a realist who painted iconic scenes.  These two artists are radically different in their technique which makes them fascinating to compare.

We began our investigation by watching the video Dropping in on Grant Wood produced by Crystal Productions.  The animated character Puffer takes us on a fun and informative journey learning about Grant Wood’s life and introducing us to 6 pieces of his art work.  We then read the book The Chuck Close Facebook by Chuck Close which is an autobiography of his life and gives fascinating examples of his painting style and works of art.  Comparing the two artists gave us the opportunity to compare and contrast their art styles, lifestyle, and works of art.  The children found this to be fascinating. 

After looking at the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood we looked for clues to solve the puzzle of who the man and woman in the painting were as well as repeated shapes and lines used in the painting. Using this painting we brainstormed how we could reinvent the painting using different characters and contemporary themes in our own version, my students were able to come up with a wide variety of ideas.  Using what we have learned about portraits and drawing the face each student drew their version of American Gothic making sure to overlap their characters in their version using the ideas that we had brainstormed.

We then painted these pieces with watercolor pencils, watercolors, and even oil pastels.  The color and variety of textures that were achieved were fantastic.  Aren't these fantastic!!!  I'm sure that my students would love to hear your thoughts. 

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