by Jill Burke
A big part of my job as the OMAA Education Coordinator involves visiting schools and community organizations weekly between September and June to share objects from the museum’s permanent collection. I teach the students about the artist, the medium, and elements of art and design that can be drawn from the artwork, then help them to create artworks that relate to what they’ve learned.
I feel so fortunate to work with the educators, support staff, and elementary students at the Baxter School and really look forward to my time with them each week – they’re funny, they jump right into our lessons, they’re not afraid to experiment with the materials, and they’re really talented!
On a recent visit, we explored still life drawing and the idea of learning to look at the world around us and see shape and form rather than outlines. While considering elements of art and design, we used a viewfinder tool to look around the classroom to learn how to define composition. We had great fun with this little exercise! I saw the ‘light bulb’ go on for the kids as they each started viewing things around the classroom inside their frames, looking for composition.
The children were inspired in this still life lesson by two Bernard Langlais works: Untitled (plant), 1954-55, watercolor and graphite on paper and Untitled (fruit bowl), early 1950s, oil, graphite, and crayon on paper. Born in Old Town, Maine in 1921, Langlais was a highly accomplished painter whose landscapes and still lifes were noted for their bold colors and flattened perspectives, as well as their experimentation with abstraction and expressionism. In the later 1950s, Langlais became well known for his painted wood sculptures, three examples of which can be found in the OMAA sculpture gardens.
After the lesson, students used chalk pastel on colored paper to create their own still life renditions, with great results! I was blown away by how they really used the entire frame – exactly what we’d been talking about!
For more information about OMAA education and outreach programs or to support this program, contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org.