How did I manage to go through 8 years of public school, 4 years of college prep, 4 years of University and STILL not get one iota of art history? (To be fair, I believe, I may have gotten a smidgen in middle school but honestly that was all a hormonal blur so I can't be sure. ) For that matter, in the
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ensuing 30 years things have not gotten much better. With all the emphasis on standardize testing, it seems that art history has taken a back seat....a way back seat.
That said, it doesn't mean that art history isn't important or useful. Of course, the most obvious way is that to understand a historical era you need to look at what was going on creatively in the culture. Art can help give a clearer understanding of the times.
BUT that is not where I'm going with this. Today, I want to show how you can use art history to inspire your own art work. I first got this idea when I started teaching art classes in the summer for my church. I would give a lesson on a famous artist and then let the kids try their hand at creating their own art in the style of the artist. (You can see those long ago posts Here and Here. ) The work they produced was amazing. It really sparked the idea that art is built on those that came before us.
First ..... Pick An Artist..... Honestly, I think the best way to a successful art piece lies in it's foundation. Do your research!! If you don't know anything about art (like me when I started) google famous paintings and pick a few that speak to you. Then look up the artist and other works they created. THEN read their story. It's so easy to find short histories and most are fascinating. Make a list of what you like about their work .... what characteristics jump out at you!
Armed with your new found knowledge....pick a design exercise!
#1 Pick a painting, take an interesting crop out of the painting, recreate it in fabric.
#2 Pick a painting, simplify it to basic shapes, pick a new palette and recreate it
#3 Create your own piece in the style of your inspiration artist or painting
#4 Pick a painting - make copies of it - cut them up and reconfigure into a new composition
#5 Pick a painting - analysis the composition - recreate that composition using your subject matter
#6 Incorporate the list of characteristics of your chosen artist that spoke to you into your own piece
Those are just a few place to start. Remember these don't have to be great masterpieces. The value is in what you learn. Still don't be afraid to take a successful try one step further into a bigger piece. Try your own ideas and don't be afraid to share them!
So What Have Been Up to Creatively?