Overview: Students observe examples of the use of shading in still-life art and create their own still-life drawings using light and dark contrasts.
Subject: Visual and Performing Arts: Visual Art, Art History
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
Duration: Two 45 minute class periods
Related Concepts: Visual Literacy, Shading, Still Life, Elements of Art, Composition, Spatial Reasoning, Drawing, Creative Expression
Students will be able to:
Analyze the use of shading in classic still-life paintings.
Apply their understanding of the concept of shading by creating their own still-life drawings that emphasize light and dark contrasts.
Essential Questions: How can I represent the light and dark contrasts of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface?
Vocabulary: still life, inanimate, shading, contrast, three-dimensional, two-dimensional
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Speaking & Listening
- Pictures of famous still life paintings or drawings that include good examples of shading
- Objects for students to choose as their drawing subjects
- Light source or flashlight for teacher use
- Individual flashlights for student use
- Projection system
- Internet access
On a projector, show students several pictures of famous still-life paintings, such as The Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne and Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose by Francisco de Zurbaran.
Ask students to describe what they see in each picture and why they think the artists chose to paint the subjects that they did. Point out the light and dark sections of each picture and ask students what they think those sections represent and why the artists included them.
Explain that lighting creates shadows on and around objects which the artists recreated in their paintings to make the images appear more realistic. Ask students what they think the term still life might mean. Explain the concept of still-life art as drawing or painting an arrangement of inanimate objects. Ask students what they think the term shading might mean in art.
Explain that shading means varying the use of color (such as lighter and darker shades) to create a more three-dimensional appearance of a drawing or painting subject. Explain that still-life subjects offer a good opportunity to explore shading since the objects do not move and there is less variance in their appearance as the artist draws or paints them over time compared to living subjects or outdoor landscapes.
Ask student to help choose a small classroom object, such as a globe, and put it on a desk in the front of the room. Put a light source, such as a small lamp with a clip or a flashlight, on the table and point it at the object to create more obvious shadows on and around the object. Note the light and dark contrasts. With the use of an overhead projector, begin to sketch the object, asking students to assist you by suggesting more or less shading in certain areas to best represent the shadows they see. Finish the rough sketch and explain that now students will have the opportunity to create their own still life drawings.
Briefly review the concepts discussed the day before about still life and shading.
Students choose an object from a table of random, ordinary objects provided by the teacher (such as blocks, small boxes, toys, artificial flowers, etc.). Provide slim flashlights to students that they can tape to their desks before they work to create a consistent light source. Have students arrange their object so that the light source shines across it and creates shadows on and around it. Students draw their objects in pencil, paying close attention to the light and shadows they see as they use shading to represent those elements.
Students briefly share their drawings with the class. Ask students to point out how they used shading in their work.
- Use informal assessment to gauge student understanding during the class discussion. Assess individual student work for the proper use of shading to create light and dark contrasts and a three-dimensional appearance.
English language learners: Provide additional examples if needed to illustrate potentially challenging vocabulary concepts, such as three dimensional or contrast.
Higher level students: Offer more challenging subjects to draw with more complicated surfaces that capture light and dark contrasts, such as crumpled paper or popcorn.
Students with special needs: Provide appropriate supports, such as pencil grips or partner help, for students who have physical challenges.
Students can expand on their understanding of applying techniques used by famous artists with the lesson Pastel Drawing like Vincent Van Gogh, in which students study prints by Van Gogh and complete their own pastel drawings in a similar style as the artist.
Host an art show in your school's multi-purpose room to feature learners' paintings and/or drawings.