Masterpiece Conversations: René Magritte

The Son of Man by René Magritte

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Apples are everywhere in art. Paintings of harvesters in fields frequently have bushels of them. A still life fruit basket may look less appealing without one. Adam and Eve wouldn’t be complete without a tempting and delicious looking apple.

Often art teachers use apples to teach how to use colors and shades to make objects look like they have form. It’s safe to say that next to people, landscapes and seascapes, apples may be one of arts most favorite subjects. Since we are talking about apples in art, I must bring up one of the most famous paintings of an apple ever, The Son of Man.

It is a painting by the Belgian artist René Magritte, and in it you see a man wearing a suit and a bowler hat. There is one part of this painting that makes it stand out as a completely unique piece of work… Where is the man’s face? It’s there, but it’s hiding behind a floating green apple. Why? Why did the artist paint a floating granny smith in front of the man’s face? Mr. René Magritte believed that knowing something is there and not being able to see it adds to its allure, its excitement.

Have you ever gone on a family trip to the beach? You know you’re getting close but you just can’t see the water yet. How excited does that make you feel? René Magritte thought people would be curious what the man’s face looks like and this would add to the excitement of the painting. What do you think? Do you want to know what the man looks like? Can you see his eyes sneaking a peek from behind the apple leaves? Why do you think he used an apple? What fruit would you use in a painting of you?

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Ponder It!

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Kevin Bartle

Masterpiece Creations: Thaumatropes

I don’t want to give away any surprises, but there is an exciting book in your future called The Right Word. What’s it about? You guessed it: words! It’s all about words, big words, small words, fun words. I have a word for you right now… thaumatrope. Do you know what that word means? It’s the name of a popular toy that was invented almost two hundred years ago. Thaumatropes are lots of fun because they create illusions. We talked about illusions in this month’s Masterpiece Conversations HERE. Thaumatropes are really easy to make and you can create so many fun illusions with them.

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Here’s how they work… An artist draws a picture on one side of a piece of paper; on the other side they draw other parts of the picture. If you spin the paper around fast enough, it will trick your eyes into thinking you are seeing just one complete picture. How much fun is that?

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Here is step by step instructions for making a thaumatrope:

1st Find a piece of cardstock or thin cardboard (it’s important that it’s the same color on both sides).

2nd Cut out a circle (big circles are hard to spin and small ones are hard to draw on; try tracing the bottom of a cup).

3rd Draw a simple subject (no need to be fancy) in the middle of one side of the cardstock (I drew a bird).

4th Turn it over and draw the rest of the picture on the other side (like a cage big enough to fit around the bird) (It’s important that the pictures are drawn upside down when compared to each other)

5th Cut two holes across from each other on the circle cardstock and attach strings (I use rubber bands)

Now for the Fun! When you twist the strings they should make the card spin. If you can spin it fast enough it should look like the bird is inside the cage. Can you see the illusion?

Think about what other picture illusions you could create on a thaumatrope. You could try a cat and mouse, or a fish and its bowl, maybe a monkey hanging from a tree or on one side draw a dog and on the other side draw her spots. See how much fun you can have coming up with your own.

For additional activities and resources be sure to check out our TPT store!

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Have fun!

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Kevin Bartle

Masterpiece Conversations: Julian Beever

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Snowman themed chalk drawings for the Daily Mail by Julian Beever.. NOT FOR WEBSITE USE. REPEAT - NOT FOR WEBSITE USE. FOR THE NEWSPAPER ONLY!

We usually talk about well-known masterpieces created by famous artist. Most often a piece of art has to be around for a long, long time to be called a masterpiece. I love so many paintings and sculptures that were created hundreds of years ago. It’s a lot of fun to look at old pieces of art and to come up with questions like: how many years they’ve been around? What did the artist use to create them? Where did they get the paint? What was it like to see their paintings when they were new? I can’t go back in history and watch Leonardo Di Vinci paint the Mona Lisa or Vincent van Gogh paint his Starry Night. What I can do is look at the world around me and try to find new masterpieces that are being created today. If you are careful you may notice a masterpiece right under your nose.

Let me introduce you to Julian Beever, a sidewalk artist. He uses chalk and paint to create amazing pictures on sidewalks and roads. He sometimes makes copies of other famous pieces of art, but what he does the most is create illusions. Illusions are pictures that trick you into thinking you are seeing something that you are not. If you look at the picture taken of Mr. Beever holding onto a street pole, it looks like there is a hole beneath him filled with buildings and kids playing on a yard. The truth is he is really standing on a painting. It’s not a hole; it’s an illusion. Julian Beever travels around the world creating pictures like this. He paints animals like frogs and tigers. He paints objects like cups and water puddles. My favorite of his creations are the ones that people can stand on to make the illusion look even more realistic. Look at the winter scene. It’s not really snowing and yet it looks like the children are playing in a winter wonderland. These sidewalk creations don’t last very long, usually only until it rains, but the pictures taken of them will help us to remember how beautiful and fun they were. They may not be masterpieces yet, but who knows, maybe one day you’ll walk down the street and see an artist creating a future masterpiece. Maybe one day, you’ll be that artist. Keep creating and using your imagination and see how much fun you can have.

Watch for my next post on how to create your own illusion art!

For additional activities and resources be sure to check out our TPT store!

Click HERE

Ponder It!

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Kevin Bartle

Masterpiece Creations: Color and Shapes!

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Paul Klee was a master artist and he loved colors. We are going to recreate one of his most famous paintings called “Castle and Sun”.

What is needed for this project is one piece of your favorite color paper and any different colored pieces of chalk you can find.

Start by drawing an outline of your castle on the paper with a light colored piece of chalk. Be sure to leave room in the sky for a sun to be added later.

Once you have the outline you can fill it in with all sorts of geometric shapes. Make them big and small. (Squares, rectangles, and triangles all work nicely)

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Now that the guidelines are in place, use chalk to fill in the shapes with as many different colors as you can find. (Try to give each shape a color different than the ones next to it)

My favorite part of using chalk is getting my fingers dirty and blending. Use your fingers to rub the chalk and smooth out the colors making sure they fill their shapes all the way to the lines.

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Once your castle is finished, use your favorite bright colors and swirl them around to make a sun. Again use your fingers to blend the sun like you did the shapes in the castle.

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Your finished product should be a fun collaboration of shape and color that would make Mr. Paul Klee very happy!

For additional activities and resources be sure to check out our TPT store!

Click HERE

Have fun!

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Kevin Bartle