Thursday, March 27, 2014

Edgar Degas Art

I posted this last week

I found the idea for this art project at Artolazzi

To create these masterpieces it took us about 3 one hour classes.

Class 1
I didn't need to do much teaching this class because we were just going to be creating the scratch paper to go behind the tinfoil.  I didn't tell them what it was for or anything.  I just told them to make sure their entire paper was covered in crayon (and to make it dark).  Then we painted all over it (mix in a little dish soap to your paint) and they thought it was crazy.  For some of them we did multiple coats of paint.

Then we left that scratch paper for about a month.  Valentine's day, days with substitutes, and snow days all got in the way.

Class 2
For the 2nd lesson I told them what we would be doing.  I had made a printout of Edgar Degas and read it to them, we looked at some of his work, and talked about how it often looked like his paintings were of a moment in time (like something we would take with a camera).  I would preview and decide which pictures you were going to show ahead of time... some of them are not appropriate for kids.  I showed dancers and horses and while looking at them we talked about what it looked like they were in the middle of doing.

We also talked about his one and only sculpture that was ever put on display "Little Dancer" and how people had originally dismissed it as ugly.  Then Edgar became a famous artist and I'm sure that ugly sculpture is worth a pretty penny now.  Moral of the story:  don't judge someone or something based on a part of them.

I also showed them some examples from the above website.  

Then I let them create their background by either using a toothpick or a cap of pen (some used mechanical pencils with no led coming out) to scratch in their design.  While they were scratching their design they had an idea of what they were going to have the person doing on it.  So, for example, one girl did a surfing one and wrote "surfing USA" all over here background.

Final Class
For this class we spent some time standing very still.  I had them all turn to the person sitting next to them and say "you are my partner".  The partner would tell the other person what they wanted them to act like and then to hold the pose.  I had people pretend to swim, shoot baskets, cannon ball, hunt, surf, and dance.  While their partner was holding the pose they had to quickly sketch out what they looked like.  Then they switched roles.

Then we got out the tinfoil.  I didn't give them much instruction as to how to create their figures other than I didn't want to be gluing on multiple pieces to the body to the background and to make it big enough to fill the background.  

Most of them ended up making heads, arms, legs, and bodies and then not being sure how to attach them all.  I ended up wrapping large pieces of tinfoil around them to hold them together.  I'm not really sure if there is a better way... perhaps creating a very loose basic shape and then crunching the tinfoil tightly to form arms, legs, and a head off the main piece might work?  I would say this definitely took the longest.  If you have a better way of forming figures out of tinfoil you should definitely leave a comment!
Most of them also ended up making their figures REALLY small.  While wrapping them in a larger piece I often tried to make them at least a little bigger though.

They glued their scratch art to another piece of construction paper and then I hot glued their tinfoil figure onto their scratch art wherever they told me to put it.  They were very good with this.  No one asked me to use the glue gun, no one even wanted to go near it which was lovely.

When I take this down I'll get some close up shots of some of my students work and add to this post.  The adults in the school have been commenting on how lovely it is... I think we are all pretty proud of ourselves in 4CP.

Here are some of our masterpieces closer up!


  1. these look great - we just finished making the paper.
    Can you share handout on Dejas? love to see it.

    1. I actually just looked up some information on Edgar Degas and did a couple of short paragraphs about him and his style of art. I might have explained how we did our art after that... I'm not sure. I can look and see if I still have the write up but I won't be able to get to that for a couple of days... if you send me an email to I'll be able to email you when (and if) I do happen to find it.


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