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Chronological Art Lessons
for Art History

Home / Art Main Menu / Approach To Instruction / Art Appreciation / Drawing Curriculum / Chronological Art Lessons / American Art History

Thank you, Devin, for sharing your list of art projects to go along with the major styles of art throughout history. The Bibliography lists all books referred to in the Examples. Discovering Great Artists is the only book that would be essential; you may find your own examples in other resources. These lessons were designed for a class of 4th and 5th grade homeschool students, which might explain why Christmas gifts are scheduled in lessons 14 and 15.

Enhance your studies, with these art timelines:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Antique Collector.UK.Com,
  • (20th Century)
  • ArtCyclopedia.Com

    Lesson 1
    Subject: Primitive Art — Materials from nature
    Project: Cave Art
    Materials: Brown paper bag, chalk, tempera
    Instructions: Open bag up, crumple, draw primitive-looking animals or scenery
    using earth tone chalks or pastels
    Example: Cave paintings, Sister Wendy p. 10 & 11

    Lesson 2
    Subject: Egyptian Art — hieroglyphics & symbolism
    Project: Clay Tablet
    Materials: Plaster of Paris, nail, gold acrylic paint, check box or other small box
    Instructions: Pour plaster of Paris into check box, scratch Egyptian-like
    designs into it when hard, rub gold paint into depressions
    Example: Festival of Sekhtet (mural), Hillyer p. 19

    Lesson 3
    Subject: Egyptian Art — symbolism
    Project: Jewelry
    Materials: Turquoise, royal blue, emerald green, black, brick red & gold
    Sculpey III, cord, clasps
    Instructions: Make & bake Sculpey beads, string, tada!
    Example: Show pictures of Egyptian jewelry, most easily found in books
    about King Tut's tomb

    Lesson 4
    Subject: Grecian Art — Bas relief sculpture
    Project: Minting coins
    Materials: Sculpey, wax, metallic crayons, large coins, clean tin can
    Instructions: Melt crayons & paraffin in clean tin cans set in a pan of hot
    water, press coins into flattened clay to make a mold, pour
    small puddle of wax into mold, cool and release
    Example: Silver Coins of Syracuse, Mstrpcs. of Greek Art #61

    Lesson 5
    Subject: Grecian Art — Architectural drawing
    Project: Drawing in one-point perspective
    Instructions: Design and draw a simple Grecian building with appropriate
    columns, using 1 point construction.
    Note: This would be a good time to introduce the difference
    between Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns.
    Example: Picture of the Parthenon on the Acropolis

    Lesson 6
    Subject: Roman art — Mosaics
    Project: Mosaic
    Materials: Construction paper, magazines, pencil
    Instructions: Fill in a simple design with pieces of construction paper or
    pieces cut from magazine photos
    Example: Nine Muses, Treasures of Ancient Rome p.65

    Lesson 7
    Subject: Chinese Art — calligraphy and drawing from nature
    Project: Nature scroll & poem
    Materials: Long paper, black marker
    Instructions: Practice Chinese calligraphy on a long piece of paper which can
    be rolled up into a scroll. Try adding a haiku and illustrating
    your poem with scenes from nature.
    Example: Birds & Lichees, Pantheon p.152

    Lessons 8 & 9
    Subject: Chinese Art
    Project: Paper making
    Materials: Large Rubbermaid-type tub, blender or food processor, small bits
    of computer paper with as little print as possible / construction paper /
    dryer lint, 2 picture frames, the same size, with screen stretched
    and stapled across one, large felt squares, newspaper.
    Instructions: This will probably take 2 sessions, but is much simpler than one
    might think. Learn2.Com has good, clear instructions for papermaking.

    Lesson 10
    Subject: Medieval Art — illuminated manuscripts
    Project: Decorative initials
    Materials: Paper, pencil, markers
    Instructions: Using your own initials, design one or more decorated letter designs
    Example: Book of Kells, Annotated Mona Lisa p.27; or Sister Wendy p.31 & 32

    Lesson 11
    Subject: Gothic Art — art that tells a story
    Project: Stained glass
    Materials: Black construction paper, tissue paper
    Instructions: Make the traditional stained glass window by cutting a design in black
    construction paper and filling in the spaces with colored tissue paper
    Example: Bayeaux Tapestry, Sister Wendy p.33; and any pictures of Gothic
    stained glass windows

    Lesson 12
    Subject: Early Renaissance
    Project: Egg paint
    Materials: paper, paintbrushes, raw eggs, powdered tempera can be
    substituted for ground-up chalk
    Instructions: See lesson on Giotto in DGA
    Example: Giotto, The Kiss of Judas, Sister Wendy p. 48 & 49

    Lesson 13
    Subject: The Renaissance — 2 point perspective
    Project: Perspectives
    Materials: Pencil, paper, ruler
    Instructions: Simple lesson in drawing a room interior in perspective
    Example: DaVinci, The Last Supper, Hillyer p.68

    Lesson 14
    Subject: Christmas Gifts
    Project: Clay projects
    Materials: Sculpey in assorted colors
    Instructions: We made various gifts using the Klutz clay books

    Lesson 15
    Subject: Christmas Gifts — surprise
    Project: Decoupage
    Materials: Gift wrap, old cards, stamps, etc., Modge Podge,
    papier mache or wood boxes
    Instructions: We decoupaged papier mache boxes from the craft store with
    various paper items. Postage stamps were the most popular.

    Lesson 16
    Subject: The Reformation
    Project: Block Print
    Materials: Styrofoam deli tray, Xerox type paper, tempera paints, brayer
    or paintbrush, old cookie sheet or piece of glass, pen
    Instructions: Draw design on styrofoam, go over it—pressing hard—with pen
    until design is deeply grooved (being careful not to cut clear
    through the styrofoam), apply paint to design with brayer or brush,
    carefully press paper cut to size of tray onto design and peel away
    Example: Durer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Sister Wendy p.153

    Lesson 17
    Subject: Mannerism
    Project: Tall People
    Materials: Magazine picture of person, tracing paper
    Instructions: See lesson on El Greco in DGA
    Example: El Greco, St. Martin and the Beggar, NGA

    Lesson 18
    Subject: Baroque & Rococo Art — chiaroscuro
    Project: Shadowy Face
    Materials: Paper, pencil, spotlight
    Instructions: See "Shadowy Faces" lesson on Rembrandt in DGA
    Example: Rembrandt, Self Portrait, Sister Wendy p.202

    Lesson 19
    Subject: Botanical Illustrations
    Materials: Flower, paper, pencil, colored pencils, magnifying glass
    Instructions: See lesson in DGA
    Example: Scientific drawings a la Linnaeus

    Lesson 20
    Subject: Neoclassicism & Realism — subject matter
    Project: People at work
    Materials: Pencil & paper
    Instructions: Draw sketches of people doing chores
    Example: Millet, The Gleaners, Sister Wendy p.281

    Lesson 21
    Subject: Impressionism — use of color
    Project: Chalk-on-Cloth
    Materials: Canvas, pastel chalks, milk, newspaper, iron
    Instructions: See Chalk on Cloth lesson in DGA
    Example: Degas, Miss LaLa at the Cirque Fernando, What Makes ... p36

    Lesson 22
    Subject: Post-Impressionism — texture
    Project: Impasto
    Materials: Tempera, white posterboard
    Instructions: See Impasto lesson in DGA
    Example: Van Gogh, Sunflowers, What Makes... p.17

    Lesson 23
    Subject: Cubism — moving toward non-representation
    Project: Fractured Friend
    Materials: Paper, pencil, temperas, markers
    Instructions: See Fractured Friend lesson in DGA
    Example: Picasso, Boy in Sailor Suit, Venezia: Picasso p.7

    Lesson 24
    Subject: Symbolism & Expressionism — expressing emotions (WWI)
    Project: Drawing faces
    Materials: Paper & markers
    Instructions: Draw a picture of someone expressing strong emotion. Use
    colors appropriate to that emotion.
    Example: Munch, The Scream, Annotated Mona Lisa p.123

    Lesson 25
    Subject: Surrealism — imagination vs realism
    Project: Giant Tennis Shoe World
    Materials: Tennis shoe, paper, pencil
    Instructions: See lesson in DGA
    Example: Magritte, Time Transfixed, Venezia: Dali p.20

    Lesson 26
    Subject: Op Art
    Project: Optical illusions in art
    Materials: Paper, pencil, ruler, markers, scissors, glue
    Instructions: See lesson in DGA
    Example: Vasarely, Vega

    Lesson 27
    Subject: Abstract Art — accidental art
    Project: Happy Accident String Art
    Materials: Yarn, paper, temperas
    Instructions: Fold construction paper in half & open up, lay string on half
    of paper in squiggly design, close paper with string sandwiched
    between, slowly pull string out while pressing down on paper.
    Example: Anything by Hans Arp, especially his collages

    Lesson 28
    Subject: Abstract Art
    Project: Action Spatter
    Instructions: See DGA lesson on Pollock
    Example: Pollack One (Number 31), Sister Wendy p.369

    Lesson 29
    Subject: Review
    Project: Make a book
    Instructions: Make book of art we've studied. Use handmade paper for covers.

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    • The Annotated Mona Lisa by Carol Strickland
    • Discovering Great Artists by Kim Solga and MaryAnn Kohl
    • Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series by Mike Venezia
    • Masterpieces of Greek Art by Raymond V Schoder
    • NGA, The National Gallery of Art
    • The Pantheon Story of Art for Young People by Ariane Ruskin Batterberry
    • Sister Wendy's Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett
    • Treasures of Ancient Rome by Peter Clayton
    • Young People's Story of Fine Art by Hillyer & Huey
         (I use the 5 volume set.)
    • What Makes a Degas a Degas? etc. by Richard Mühlberger

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