Applying wax to the spots and glaze to the teeth and eyes of year 5s clay models of Benin bronze leopards!
Topic, chosen by Ayaan:
How the great artists made their work
This was an interesting choice and first we looked at work by 3 of the most famous artists.
We saw drawings of rocks, mountains, storms, invented machines and the human body by the famous Italian Leonardo da Vinci, 2 self-portraits by the Dutch Van Gogh, 3 portraits by the Spanish Pablo Picasso. All those artists seemed to be obsessed. They worked most of the time and even Van Gogh, who was only 37 when he died, produced over 800 paintings. The other two had long lives and were very observant and curious and were always trying out new things.
Then we saw a textile design called Golden Harvest, (made in 1959) by the Caribbean Althea McNish, and a brush-drawing by the Japanese Toko Shinoda (we could see her standing up, drawing with a long-handled brush on a big sheet of paper on the floor).
But we started by looking at a photograph of Victor Pasmore working, (because we had seen some paintings by him last time). In the photo he was on the floor looking very small sitting in the middle of his big painting. He was painting the lines. It was going to be a big mural. An artist can work in all sorts of ways: standing up, lying down, sitting in a tree.
Victor Pasmore, Spiral Motif, 1951
Theme: Pattern and Space
We looked at paintings and drawings by the following artists:
The Lifeboat , 1991 The Snowstorm, 1950
Spiral Motif, 1951 Linear Development, 1951
Current, 1964 Movement in Squares, 1961
Water Lily, 1968 Grass, 1961
Uthmann said: I think that ‘See, Think, Wonder’ that we do in class is like what artists do when they work, and what they make us do when we try to work out what it is.
Ayaan: Maybe the drawing by Pasmore could be called ‘City’ because if you look closely the circles seem to represent buildings. (Actually, this one was called Spiral Motif).
Maaria: One of the pictures looks like a person, but Uthmann said it was an ocean, showing the reflections from the sky in the water (this one is The Lifeboat)
Uthmann: Its like a leaf, very simple, just lines (it is Water Lily). Spiral Motif is also like a river or the sea with flowing
Naeema: The Snowstorm is like baskets piled up together, with balls of wool, or fabric or clothes in them.
Ayaan: Its like tornadoes!
Present: Inayah, Naeema, Uthmann, Ayaan, Ayyub, Fahim,Shahzor, Ariyaan, Maaria . Scribe: Naeema
Theme : Abstraction
Scribe: Mutasim Director: Zakariya
Abstract Art can seem a bit complicated. Some people find it difficult, because abstract artists don’t try to represent the world in a realistic way, like a photograph, but often paint strong sensations or feelings, like Speed, Energy, Growth, or maybe they love to paint large areas of colour, or flowing lines, strong shapes or angry moods, or stillness.
Mutasim wrote: We saw that abstract paintings are not necessarily of recognisable things. They can seem to be random stuff, like what we see quickly, or think or dream about. Abstract work can be in colour, or not.
Victor Pasmore’s painting The Lifeboat reminded some of us of sea shanties. The curving lines, curling over, looked like waves in the sea. The painter looks at the water, sees the ways it moves.
The still-life painting by Juan Gris (who was a friend of Picasso’s) called Still-Life with a Bottle of Suze looks more realistic at first because we can see it’s a bottle, newspaper and glass. But Gris has shown them looking tilted and different from normal objects.
Phyllida Barlow’s drawings Leaf and Field made us wonder what we could be looking at. They reminded us a bit of things from nature, like a big area of land, or a lilypad, or a forest.
Last of all we looked again at The Lifeboat and Tanbir thought he saw a tiny plane in among the waves. It could be a bird… then we thought it might be the reflection of a plane flying over the sea, reflected in the water!
Theme: Drawing and Sketching
Scribe: Ahsan Director: Kushi
In the drawing Fighting Elephants, by an unknown Indian artist from Jaipur, someone thought there must have been Roman soldiers making the elephants charge each other, because we know the Roman soldiers used elephants when they crossed the Alps. The drawing is very lifelike and shows lots of movement. There are 9 elephants.
Someone predicted that the sketch by the Swiss artist Paul Klee was of a bowl of food, although it wasn’t: it was an abstract drawing of curving lines.
On the Japanese artist Hokusai’s sketch somebody wondered what the writing (called calligraphy)meant. The drawing (done in 1843) was called Dog Barking at a Performer and was quite funny. It showed an actor dressed up as a dragon with a fierce mask. We could see the man’s legs under the big piece of cloth, but the dog was frightened and was barking at the dragon.
The drawing ‘Bridge and Study of Volumes’ by the Italian architect Mario Chiattone was made in 1914. That is more than 100 years ago but the buildings look so modern! They showed tall apartment blocks and a bridge that he imagined, and wanted to build, but sadly they were never built Lots of architects after that admired and learned from him.
We also looked at drawings by Seurat, Watteau and Djanira.
Theme: The Paintings of Paula Rego
Paula Rego is a Portuguese painter, now aged 87 and still working! A few members of the group had noticed how bold and strong the figures are in her work. She uses vibrant, powerful colours.
Scribe: Kushi Director: Aisha
In The Dance, painted in 1988, we see a group of 8 people dancing on a beach by moonlight. There is a girl by herself on the left, three females (who could be grandmother, mother and little daughter) towards the back, and two couples, man and woman, towards the front. The moon is very important as it lights up the scene and also the bright-coloured clothes they are wearing.
Rego loved painting clothes: the fabric with its folds and textures, patterns and colours. She also loved contrasts and showed the figures brightly against a dark background. She is fascinated by people, and especially loves ‘telling stories’ in her work. We can imagine what might be going on. She remembered being told fairy stories as a child, and in some of her work she uses her family and friends as her models for the characters.
In Joseph’s Dream we wondered if Joseph is dreaming that he is being painted, or if the artist in the picture is painting him as he dreams!
She is an artist and a storyteller.
The paintings we saw were:
The Policeman’s Daughter
Portrait of Germaine Greer
Scribe: Khushi Scribe: Mutasim again
Theme: Colour in Painting, again
Paintings: Self-portraits by Pablo Picasso
The Dance, by Paula Rego
The Sleeping Gypsy, by Rousseau
Gouache painting of herself in a field of flowers, by Charlotte Salomon
This was a shorter meeting. We looked again at Picasso’s self-portrait painted at the end of his life, and some of us thought it looked sad, with his lined, white face. His other self-portrait was made soon after his friend had died in Spain. We thought he chose the dark- blue colours to express his sad feelings.
The strong colours of The Dance – on a beach in the evening – made the arrangement very dramatic.
The Sleeping Gypsy was also unusual and made us wonder how the gypsy or the lion had got to that desert place as there were no footprints… and did the lion plan to eat the gypsy, or was it guarding him? It didn’t look at all fierce but was just gently sniffing him!
Theme: Shadows and Light
Scribe: Sultana again (thank you, Sultana)
Technical Assistant: Mohammed
There were lots of responses to these paintings, and it was a very lively and interesting meeting.
Many thanks to Mohamed who offered to do the technical work, and also typed up the names of the artists and titles on the screen for us.
Congratulations to all members of the Arts Council this year, from classes 7, 8 and 9. You have made some very good contributions to our discussion!
Class 9 : 23rd June
Theme: Plants and Flowers in Light and Shade
Technical Assistant: Mohammed
It was interesting to compare the Sunflower paintings by Van Gogh (which were so bright yellow and happy) and Klimt’s Sunflower, which was a bit droopy and had a complicated, dark flowery background.
The sunflower faces the sun so it can get energy from it and grow tall.
In Van Gogh’s Long Grass painting he uses long briushstrokes to show the grass, but its really hard to see the butterflies.
Question: Are these real places, or has the artist imagined them? Answer: Yes, they are.
Rose Bushes, by Klimt
If the artist makes a mistake he could probably just dab paunt over it and fix it. There are lots of blobs of different colours. Klimt’s sunflower is so big, and it isn’t in a vase like Van Gogh’s – its in the ground, almost looks like a tree..
Oriental Poppies by O’Keefe: People are interested in the shapes. Some say it looks 3D. It is very close-up. Black and orange.