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Here is a great lesson on the artist Marc Chagall




4, 5, 6  

Title – Getting Personal with Marc Chagall
By – Hollie Regalo
Subject – Art
Grade Level – 4th-6th
In this lesson, students will become familiar with the visual style of Marc Chagall and will create a picture that has personal meaning.

1. TLW define the terms “surrealism”, “symbolic”, “focal point”, and “Marc Chagall”.
2. TLW recognize the visual style of Marc Chagall.
3. TLW create an artwork using personal subject matter.
4. TLW practice oil-pastel techniques.

scrap paper, at least 8.5″ x 11″
12″ x 18″ black construction paper
oil pastels (Cray-Pas are great)
toothpicks/skewers for scratching
tissues for blending

Time Needed: Four 45-minute classes

I have my older students keep a list of terms that we use in art class, so I begin this lesson by having them copy the terms and definitions (surrealism: a style of art that looks dreamlike; symbolic: standing for, or meaning, something else; focal point: the most important part of the picture; Marc Chagall: [1887-1985] a Russian-Jewish artist who painted dreamlike stories of his life). I then have students read the terms aloud and we discuss them briefly. For younger students, I read the book “Gittel’s Hands” which is set in a shtetl similar to Chagall’s boyhood home, and is illustrated in a style very much like his.

1. Display works by Chagall (such as “I And The Village”, “Birthday”, “Time Is A River without Banks”) and lead the class in a discussion. Ask the students to describe what they see, which elements are realistic, and which could only happen in a dream. When displaying more than one work, have students find similarities between artworks. If your students are familiar with Picasso and/or Cubism, ask them to select the artworks which use the Cubist style.
2. Ask students to interpret what they see, noting that Chagall preferred not to explain his works in depth, so that many of them are quite mysterious. If time allows, ask students why he may not have wanted to explain exactly what he meant.
3. Tell students that they will be illustrating a story from their life. Ask them to choose an event that has already happened to them or that they would like to happen in the future. Brainstorm possibilities, such as:
-moving to or from a town
-future careers
-favorite activities
-death of a loved one
-baby stories (this always gets a huge response)
Remind students that the subject matter can be happy or sad, but it needs to be personal. Some will find this difficult, so be very careful with comments and critiques.
4. Ask students to sketch their idea onto the scrap paper. Refer to Chagall’s works and how he painted objects floating around, upside down, etc. Stress that this is not a strictly realistic drawing, but it should have a focal point, preferably in the middle of the page. If students do not put their focal points in the center, they will need to use other visual devices to lead our eyes to the most important part.
5. Remind students that this should be a symbolic picture, and it doesn’t necessarily have to make perfect sense to the viewer as long as it tells the story. (Examples: one of my students depicted her parents’ painful divorce, drawing herself in the middle, with a parent on either side tugging her hand, and a broken heart over her head. Another student illustrated a well-remembered trip to an amusement park, with a roller coaster winding around the page.)
6. When students have an acceptable sketch, have them copy their idea onto the black paper, noting that their pencil lines will not show up quite as well, nor erase well, so they should work carefully.
7. Next, ask students to trace their pencil lines with glue. The glue should dry clear, allowing the black paper to show through, giving the picture a stained-glass effect. There are some tricks to this, and I have found that the Crayola glue in the no-clog bottles (the ones with the strange lid) dries especially clear. You may also want to try black colored glue.
When tracing small or detailed objects, have students trace only the outermost contours.
8. When the glue is dry, have students begin coloring with oil pastels. Oil pastels look best when colored heavily, although coloring lightly and rubbing with a tissue can create a lovely background. Encourage them to blend colors, even in strange combinations, as it can have a really neat effect. The focal point should generally receive the brightest, richest coloring effects, but definitely not always.
9. Some other techniques to try are patterning (lay down a background color, then draw lines or dots on top; my students’ favorite is a dense loop-de-loop), smearing, and scratching (lay down a heavy color/colors, then use a toothpick to scratch lines or details). Cray-Pas’ website has good ideas:
10. You could correlate language arts by having students write a poem or haiku about their picture.

-Did the student choose personal subject matter?
-Did the student use symbols to communicate meaning?
-Did the student experiment with the surrealistic style?
-Did the student use rich and varied coloring?
-Is there a clear focal point?
A rubric on a 1-10 scale helps arrive at “grade-able” number.

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