Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cézanne's Apples

Still Life of Apples and Biscuits, Paul Cézanne, 1880-82
Yesterday was Paul Cézanne's birthday.  We've been celebrating since last week with a lesson block on post-impressionism.  We began our studies with, Monet and the Impressionists for Kids by Carol Sabbeth.  This is a clever book with 21 activities for kids.

My goal was to expose A. to a form of art she hadn't seen before and inspire her with Cézanne's apples, Monet's lilies, and the dancers of Degas.  What happened was so much more...

We typically make time for art a few days per week with special projects like watercolor painting or sculpting with homemade play dough.  A. also enjoys drawing and coloring in her Main Lesson Books with beeswax crayons nearly every day to demonstrate her favorite part of a story, something we learned on a nature walk, or a new math concept (such as King Equal distributing jewels to the gnomes).  Until now, however, we haven't formally studied art or given it a regular place in our schedule.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1886
Last week we gave art top billing and sat down every morning with a new project.  We experimented with oil pastels and met five new artists.  A. learned to identify Cézanne's apples (he painted a lot of still-lifes on tipsy tabletops with fruit looking like it might roll right off the table), Monet's lilies (they look a lot like lotus flowers!), Degas' dancers (ballerinas stretching, yawing, twirling but never posing!), Gauguin's girls (Tahitian girls and tropical scenes often outlined in black), and Seurat's dots (he painted with small dots in a style called pointillism).  Yes, I know the "t' is Seurat is silent... but it's so much easier to remember when it rhymes!

Amelie's first still life (inspired by Cézanne)
We also moved piano to our morning session of school -- something else that I typically don't schedule but always encourage.  In the past my thought was to let her come to art and music on her own - especially piano - and not to push it.  She is only six after all.  But this week's change in our schedule really worked wonders.  

Moving the arts to our morning session breathed new life into our routine and fired up my girl's mind and heart so that the afternoon subjects were a breeze.  Studying the arts is not just about learning to paint or play, after all.  The arts, both visual and performing, actually enhance brain development in young children (read about it here).  It's such a shame that they're absent from so many schools today.  I suppose there's no time or money for the arts when we spend it all on test-taking though.

Bedroom at Arles, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
The highlight of our lesson-block came Tuesday with a trip to San Francisco to see the de Young exhibit, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay.  Standing inches from the original works mesmerized us both... and it was here that A. met my favorite artist, Van Gogh.  I thought the star of the exhibit was his Starry Night over the Rhone.  A. preferred his Bedroom at Arles and has since created a little masterpiece of her own bedroom using oil pastels. 

Cézanne is quoted as saying, “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”  With the arts no longer present in school, who will start the revolution?  Will be become a world devoid of beauty and meaning?  I refuse to imagine that world.... so we're keeping the arts right where they belong -- as the first subject of the day.
Related Posts with Thumbnails