Matisse: King of Color

We just read this great children's book called, Matisse the King of Color by Laurence Anholt. While you may already be familiar with Matisse, his famous cut outs, his beautiful, playful paintings, his outrageous use of color, what you may not know is that he also had a very big heart....

 In 1948 he commissioned and designed a chapel for his friend and former nurse, Sister Jacques-Marie, whose convent was too poor to have a chapel. At first the sisters were appalled by the work he was doing, the chapel was in no way traditional, but as time went on his vision and generosity seems to have won them over. Today you can visit this Chapelle du Rosaire du Vence in France.

For more on the chapel - check out this video by the BBC to get a glimpse into this beautiful work of art and when you're finished, scroll down for a lesson plan!

Now to the fun part, after watching this video and/or reading the book with your child you can get to work on some cool art projects. Today I have two suggested activities for you: Matisse stained glass and Matisse wall drawings.

Matisse Stained Glass
various colored tissue paper or cello sheets
contact paper or wax paper

: Start by cutting  paper into squares. Then from these squares make different shapes. Remember there  is no "right" shape, so whatever shape develops, is perfect. 
: Once you've cut out all the shapes you want, arrange them onto the contact paper. Or if using wax 

paper, you can glue or tape the shapes on. 
:Display. For contact paper you can simply cut the piece off of the roll and stick it onto the window. 

For wax paper, pull the wax paper until you have enough to fold the piece over on itself without folding the cutouts. Then simply tape it closed and tape it to a window.

: Matisse often listened to music while making art, what music would you like to listen to while we 

work on this project?
:What do you think of all the bright colors and shapes Matisse liked to use? 

How do they make you feel? 
:If you got to decorate a room for someone you loved, what would it look like?

Matisse Wall Drawing

: large piece of paper or cardboard box that is light enough to hang on your wall
: packing tape
: yard stick or long stick
: marker

: Begin by tapping the paper to the wall just above the height of your child. Then tape the marker to the end of the stick. 
: Invite your child to draw, on the paper using the marker on the end of the stick. 
: Join in - set up your own work space and join your child in the process!

: What's it like making a drawing like this rather than on a piece of paper on a table or easel? Is it harder? Easier? More fun?
: Why do you think Matisse drew on his walls like this?

top image: By Henri Matisse (scanned from book) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Museum Highlight: Allen Museum at Oberlin

Recently I've been working on a list of family programs at art museums throughout the country (which will be out next month!). During my search, I came across the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio. I loved their family program so much, I had to share it with you...

Thought for the day...

Русский: Фестиваль Yota Space 2010 - MSA Visuals

“The old rules of not touching a work of art or of reverentially paying homage to each picture in a state of quiet awe are now gone….” 
 Ossian Ward in his latest book Ways of Looking: How to experience Contemporary Art. 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think the experience of visiting a museum will be different for your children as it was for you as a kid?

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about what art museums are going to look like in the future. Will you be able to put on a VR headset and virtually step in to the painting? Could haptic gloves allow us to feel the art? All of these thoughts continually go back to technology's influence on the future of how we experience art. But before we get there with technology, contemporary artists are encouraging us to move beyond the standard "stand and stare" that we so often do when visiting a museum, and to get involved with the piece itself.

Check out these hands on exhibits and tell me what you think, is this just a trend or the wave of the future?

What Artists Inspire You: Early American Artists

American Progress John Gast 1872

Today, I'm teaming up with Patience Brewster in celebration of August's Artist Appreciation Month. After much consideration, I realized I cannot write one, short post on this topic because there have been so many artists that have inspired me throughout my life, whether personal or professional. And so, if you can bear with me, I've decided to break it up into segments. Starting with 19th century early American art.  (Don't worry, I promise it will be interesting!)
When I was in graduate school I had a long commute from Berkeley to Sacramento twice a week for classes. I'd get up very early, pour a large cup of coffee, and hit the road. As I drove the sun would be rising over the hills and the tips of the tall grasses that lined the highway would start to glow. This strip of highway runs through a few towns, but mostly you're driving through hills with cattle grazing and seemingly endless farmland.

I remember thinking one day as I drove, "this is manifest destiny*." The same idea that drove so many people westward, inspired by art like John Gast's American Progress. There was something so serene, so inspiring about the landscape that I felt like I was driving into a painting. Since then whenever I drive that strip of highway, I feel inspired, perhaps the same way these early American artists were, at the prospect of something new and exciting.

Now I want you to think, have you ever driven/walked/biked through a painting? Have you ever stood in one point and looked out at nature thinking, maybe, just maybe, a hundred to two hundred years prior an artist sat there with his easel and paints, just as inspired by the landscape as you, and created a masterpiece? 

Here are a few pieces that always make me ask that last question...

Yosemite Valley Albert Bierstadt c.1868

Niagra Falls Frederic Edwin Church 1857

Sierra Nevada Albert Bierstadt c.1871

*Please note that I do not support the actual concept of "manifest destiny." Nor do I support the removal of native peoples from their land that resulted from this movement. 

This is not a sponsored piece. However if you'd like to learn more about Patience, check her delightful Christmas ornaments

What's In A Frame?

Have you ever wondered how an artists chooses the frame for the piece? Imagine, for a second, what the Mona Lisa might look like in a different frame...