The Magic of the Olive Tree

Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890
Olive Picking, 1889, oil on canvas, 73.5 × 92.5 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens

The Magic of the Olive Tree inspired so much Vincent Van Gogh that while in Saint-Remy-de Provence in 1889, he painted at least 15 paintings depicting their beauty! The same magic inspired our wonderful Pinewood Kindergarten Teacher… who organized a Unit to remember!

“The Kindergarten theme on Olives began with the intention of it being a transdisciplinary unit so that the children would learn many facets about it. It was introduced in a simple way – when the children reached the letter O in the English alphabet they decided to remember this letter sound by saying ‘O is for olive’… From there they learned that olives are fruit and that they grow on Olive Trees in Greece. Inspired by short videos showing how olives are picked in late Autumn, the children took a sheet, a stick and a basket and went olive picking on the school grounds. They hit the branches of the school Olive Trees and collected the fruit that fell… So enthusiastic about what they did they decided to capture their experience by making their very own olive tree grove Bulletin Board.”

Pinewood Kindergarten students “listened in awe as they travelled back into mythological times, to when Athena bestowed the gift of an Olive Tree to the Athenians. This helped the children understand what a treasure the Olive Tree is because of all the various gifts that it gives: wood (for heat, furniture), oil ( for cooking, eating, light, fuel) and soap… They tasted both green and black olives, they washed their hands with olive soap, they lit an oil-lamp with olive oil and they made olive bread… They created olive wreaths by counting card leaves and plasticine olives to a given number and learned that in ancient times an olive wreath, just like the ones they had made, were placed on the heads of champion athletes.”

Finally, students “realized how thankful they are for this humble fruit and all it provides. So when it came to Thanksgiving Day the children chose to honour the Olive Tree by writing their messages of thanks inside their olive wreaths and entitling their display, ‘In Greece, we are thankful for Olive Trees’.”

Kindergarten student Bulletin Board Art photographed by Kostas Papantoniou

“O is for Olive” is the amazing Lesson Plan prepared by the school’s Kindergarten Teacher, Mrs. Anna Maria Mathias, with assistance provided by Mrs. Kathy Lekkas. The PowerPoint photos that follow HERE! were taken by the school’s photographer, Mr. Kostas Papapatoniou.

For the purposes of this BLOG, The Magic of the Olive Tree, “teachercurator” put together a PowerPoint on Van Gogh and paintings of Olive Trees… please check HERE!

The new Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens has a wonderful Vincent Van Gogh painting of Olive Picking from his 1889 period. Apparently, Van Gogh painted “three versions of this picture. He described the first as a study from nature “more coloured with more solemn tones” (in the Goulandris Collection) and the second as a studio rendition in a “very discreet range” of colours (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).” The third painting is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and accordingly is “the most resolved and stylized of the three.” The third painting was “intended for his sister and mother, to whom Van Gogh wrote: “I hope that the painting of the women in the olive trees will be a little to your taste—I sent [a] drawing of it to Gauguin… and he thought it good… ” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436536 and https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/vincent-van-gogh-olive-picking

“Bourgeois” Portrait

Your tour of the new Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens should start from the 4th floor… recommends the helpful Museum operator, and I hesitantly followed his recommendation. I was pleasantly surprised! An impressive “Bourgeois” Portrait of Basil and Elise Goulandris welcomed me, setting the tone for what I was about to experience.

Painted four years after Basil Goulandris’s passing, this eye-catching Portrait of the famous art collectors by George Rorris introduces you to the “atmosphere” that prevails in the latest cultural addition to the Athens Museum circuit! It’s grand, elegant yet understated. Basil Goulandris, clad in a dark suit, stands tall and aloof, staring at you intensely. Elise on the other hand, wearing the softest of pink, sits charmingly on an armchair and looks beyond you. They are surrounded by three favourite paintings from their legendary collection and a mirror that holds a secret worth exploring!

Little information is unfortunately provided by the Foundation on the “whats, the hows and the whys” of this painting. I hope, as time progresses, part of their “Permanent Collection” site will get richer with short descriptions and information on each and every one of their paintings. https://goulandris.gr/en/collection/works-of-art and https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/rorris-george-portrait-of-basil-and-elise-goulandris

Basil and Elise Goulandris were known for their passionate love of the arts. They were avid collectors, famous for their superb “taste” and acute “eye.” ‘I spent months at a time with Basil and Elise when I was a child,’ says Fleurette Karadontis ‘they had no children of their own — they looked on the paintings as their children. The works were a genuine presence in their lives, a constant part of the conversation. Basil might suddenly say: look there, I never realised that the colour of the shirt in that painting is the same as the wall behind that still life. Or he would look at some cubist painting and ask: how many people do you see in it because I think there are three.’ https://www.christies.com/features/A-gift-to-Greece-the-Goulandris-Foundation-10209-1.aspx

For High School level student Activities on the George Rorris “Bourgeois” Portrait of Basil and Elise Goulandris… Click HERE!

Medusa

Elementary level student work

Medusa was once upon a time an entrancing maiden, the only mortal sister of the three Gorgons, attractive for her beauty originally, feared as an image of evil later, when Athena’s anger turned her into a hideous monster… According to the Roman Poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Athena was so fierce in her punishment, Medusa’s hair was transformed into venomous snakes, and her once lovely face, looked upon, petrified the viewer.

To save his mother Danae from the much-unwanted attention of king Polydectes of Seriphos, young Perseus was tasked with the impossible, killing Medusa. Perseus, however, was not alone and helpless in his adventure. He carried with him divine gifts, Athena’s mirrored shield, Hermes’s gold, winged sandals, Hephaestus’s adamantine sword and Hades’s helmet of invisibility. According to Ovid Perseus was successful, Medusa head was cut and ultimately ended up in Athena’s Aegis.

“Medusa in Ancient Greek Art” is a Metropolitan Museum of Art article worth reading: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/medu/hd_medu.htm

“flee, for if your eyes are petrified in amazement, she will turn you to stone,” wrote Gaspare Mustola, an Italian poet and writer of the 17th century, and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio painted the most amazing Medusa head of all time!

Caravaggio, 1571-1610
Medusa, 1597, oil on canvas mounted on wood, 60 cm × 55 cm, Uffizi, Florence

My Grade 3 students love the terrifying Myth of the Medusa and creating a Mask is always a successful Activity! The best Mask by far is offered by the Cleveland Museum of Art… which I use every year with student enthusiasm and great success! https://www.clevelandart.org/sites/default/files/documents/other/MakeaMaskofMedusa.pdf

For a PowerPoint on the student Mask Activity… check HERE!

Reverence for Nature and Tiffany

Tiffany’s Incredible Hair Pin

Reverence for Nature and Tiffany is my latest BLOG Post. It is about an extraordinary Hair Ornament in the MET Collection portraying two Dragonflies and Dandelions. Created in 1904 for Louisine Havemeyer, a great collector of Impressionist Art and one of Tiffany’s most ardent patrons, the Metropolitan Museum Hair Pin is my favourite Art Nouveau piece of Jewelry. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/2046

When I think of Louis Comfort Tiffany, I think of nature’s power, its brittleness, yet joy. I think of radiance, luminosity and brilliance in colour. I think of superb craftsmanship… as exemplified in the MET’s Dragonfly and Dandelion Hair Ornament. According to Alice Cooney Frelinghuyse in the MET, the Hair Ornament “epitomizes his earliest jewelry designs, which were based directly on modest forms in nature, such as field flowers and wild fruit, as well as his affinity for enamelling and semiprecious stones with unusual colors. The dragonflies rest on dandelion seedballs, one of which is shown partially blown away, underscoring the fragility of nature. Highly skilled artisans conveyed the transparency of the insects’ wings through delicate metalwork filigree. The temporal quality is revealed in the subject: dragonflies rest in one place for mere seconds before flitting away; dandelions disperse into thousands of airborne seeds with the gentlest of breezes.” file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/Recent_Acquisitions_A_Selection_2002_2003_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_61_no_2_Fall_2003%20(1).pdf

For a short PowerPoint on Louis Comfort Tiffany… click HERE!

A Grade 4 or 5 student Activity on Reverence for Nature and Tiffany is HERE!

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2002.620/

Renaissance Triptych… fresh

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Sienese, c. 1255 – 1318
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, a component of the original Maestà, 1308/1311, tempera on a single panel, NGA, Washington, DC

Renaissance Triptych… fresh is a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) designed for my high school elective class on Art History. It touches upon Sienese 14th century Art, Duccio, the great master of the time, his most important oeuvre, the Maestà altarpiece, and Triptych Icons.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Triptych as “a picture (such as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by side.” It further defines Triptych as having Greek roots. “Triptych derives from the Greek triptychos (“having three folds”), formed by combining tri- (“three”) and ptychē (“fold” or “layer”),” and it continues “although triptych originally described a specific type of Roman writing tablet that had three hinged sections, it is not surprising that the idea was generalized first to a type of painting, and then to anything composed of three parts.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/triptych

Wonderful information on Duccio’s Maestà can be accessed at https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.10.html and basically https://www.nga.gov/collection/highlights/duccio-the-nativity-with-the-prophets-isaiah-and-ezekiel.html

“On the day on which it was carried to the Duomo, the shops were locked up . . . and all the populace and all the most worthy were in order next to the said panel with lights lit in their hands, and then behind were women and children with much devotion; and they accompanied it right to the Duomo . . . sounding all the bells in glory out of devotion for such a noble panel as was this.” Anonymous mid-14th-century description of a procession to carry Duccio’s Maestà from the artist’s studio to the Siena Cathedral (L. A. Muratori, Rerum italiarum scriptores (Bologna, 1931–1939), xv/6, 90

The Renaissance Triptych… fresh RWAP is… HERE!

For a PP on Student work inspired by Renaissance Triptych… fresh RWAP, please… check HERE!

Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock

The work of a Grade 9 student! on the Tick-Tock, Bedroom Clock RWAP

Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock was inspired by the Getty Museum Activity: http://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/classroom_resources/curricula/decarts/decarts_lesson05.html. It has developed into a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) much liked by my students.

How fascinating can a Rococo Clock be to a High School student today? I am always surprised to discover that students respond positively and enthusiastically to the enjoyable, cheerful and carefree style of the 18th century we call Rococo. “Artists working in this frivolous aesthetic built upon the flamboyance of the Baroque period, adapting its awe-inspiring aesthetic to produce equally extravagant yet distinctively playful works of art.”

Do you know that “The term Rococo is derived from rocaille, a special method of decorating fountains and grottoes that dates back to the Italian Renaissance?” Artists using this technique “would mix seashells, pebbles, and other organic materials with cement, culminating in a naturalistic, under-the-sea-inspired medium.”

Rococo Decorative Arts are equally important and fascinating to painting and sculpture. They “often incorporate intricate, asymmetrical forms.” Their “serpentine silhouettes are inherently naturalistic yet undoubtedly exaggerated and are found in a range of objects, including intricate tables and eye-catching candelabra…” and Tick-Tock Clocks… I would add.

All quotations come from April 29, 2018, well-written to say the least article titled Celebrate the Elegance and Exuberance of French Rococo Art at MY MODERN MET https://mymodernmet.com/rococo-art/ site.

For more examples of student work, please… check HERE!

The Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock student Worksheet is… HERE!

A PowerPoint on Rococo Clocks is… HERE!

Hercules at the Crossroads

Hercules at the Crossroads Bulletin Board Display

Hercules at the Crossroads is an ancient Greek parable. It came down to us through Xenophone but is attributed to Prodicus of Ceos, a 5th-century philosopher. According to Prodicus, young Hercules, at the threshold of adulthood, meets two women, personifications of Virtue and Vice, and faces a choice. One of the women is beautiful but dignified, dressed modestly, looking genuine and pure. The other is equally beautiful but voluptuous in form, richly dressed, looking superficial. They represent the two paths of life, that of Virtue and that of Vice, and Hercules chooses Virtue, the road of honour, hard work but noble deeds.

Created thousands of years ago, the  Greek Myths of Hercules tell us epic stories, adventures of demigods, heroes and monsters, tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, bravery…  They show that gods and heroes, very much like ordinary humans, men and women alike, can be right or wrong, fail or succeed, love or hate. Hercules and his extraordinary deeds offer our students a glimpse into the lives of the Ancient Greek people, their culture and art.

The parable of Hercules at the Crossroads became a popular motif in Western art, just like the lovely hand-fan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/hercules-crossroads-30805

For my Grade 1 Host Country Studies class, I decided to do a HAND-FAN Activity. We created simple, paper HAND-FANS and we decorated them with WORDS representing the concepts of VIRTUE and VICE. We added a beautiful coloured ribbon and… Voila!!!

Words of Virtue or Vice HAND-FAN Activity

For the Worksheet on the Activity, please… Check HERE!

For the PowerPoint, please… Check HERE!

Inspired by the François Vase

Bulletin Board Presentation – Grade 7

Inspired by the François Vase is a Grade 7 Activity my students enjoy doing!

François Vase is exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology in Florence. It is “a large black-figure krater, a large vase in Ancient Greece believed to be used for watering down wine, from c. 570 BC. The design is fascinating and, if one looks carefully, you will find both the signature of the potter, Ergotimos and the painter, Kleitias. This krater is named the “François Vase” after the archaeologist who found it in 1844. ” https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/maf-archeological-museum.html

François Vase, large Attic volute krater decorated in the black-figure style, by Kleitias(painter) and Ergotimos(potter), c. 570-565 BC, Florence National Archaeological Museum

The François Vase Activity

Instructions on what to do: During class, students are introduced to ancient Greek pottery, and more specifically the importance and characteristics of the François Vase. This Activity is based on the classroom lectures, student research on the subject, and ultimately student creativity and imagination. So, ……

  1. Students are asked to READ the attached sites and WATCH the provided Videos: https://www.florenceinferno.com/the-francois-vase/ and https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft1f59n77b&chunk.id=d0e2374&toc.depth=1&toc.id=&brand=ucpress and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh1oONbq2ik
  2. Students will be provided with a Template of a Volute Krater. This template will be their work canvas! to create a “new” version of the François Vase.
  3. For the Volute Krater Template, a big thank you to IMGBIN and go to https://imgbin.com/png/ZZBrSTGn/krater-volute-line-art-vase-drawing-png
  4. Students are asked to design a “new version” of the François Vase inspired by their favorite novel, poem, myth, comic story or their own life!
  5. They may consider the following poem by Archilochos of Paros, 8th century BC lyric poet (Willis Barnstone, trans., Greek Lyric Poetry [New York: Schocken Books) as a source of inspiration:

The PowerPoint, teachercurator has prepared, can be seen if you… Click HERE!

For more examples of student work… Click HERE!

Jamestown Settlement

Student RWAP Artwork

The New World is an interesting Movie to start our American Art Journey in an entertaining, yet educational, way! “This cinematic masterpiece illustrates the adventures of explorer John Smith as he establishes the Jamestown Settlement in 1607. Smith and Native American princess Pocahontas discover their worlds are different yet their hearts beat the same for each other, while English settlers and Native Americans come to blows.” https://www.owlteacher.com/teach-with-movies-page-6.html

Jamestown Settlement Activity

We followed 3 steps for this Project: 1. We first saw the movie, The New World, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_World_(2005_film). 2. Then, students were asked to do some research, find and write down 10 Facts of Jamestown Settlement. 3. Finally, RWAP time! (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project)

This Project covers at least 2 pages of the student RWAP Sketchbook or an A3 size Poster.

RWAP Instructions: A. Research – Coloured or B/W Photocopies of Artworks related to or inspired by Jamestown Settlement. Go to Google – Jamestown Colony – Pictures. Do not forget that correct identification for each picture is needed. B. Research – Writing – 6 Facts about Jamestown Settlement. Students already have 10 Facts from Step 2 of the Project. Review Facts, choose 6 of them, the BEST! and use them in their RWAP Sketchbook. Students are asked to not COPY/PASTE!!! and to write down BIBLIOGRAPHY! C. Art Activity and Project Title – There is so much on the Internet to get students inspired!!! BE CREATIVE! Do not forget a nice, artistic TITLE for the Project!!!

For examples of student RWAP… Click HERE!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402399/

The Myth of Ouranos and Gaia

Kindergarten Art inspired by the Myth of Ouranos and Gaia

My Kindergarten Mythology Class started with the Myth of Ouranos and Gaia.

Created thousands of years ago, Greek Myths tell us epic stories, adventures of demigods, heroes, and monsters, tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, bravery… Greek Myths show that the gods, very much like ordinary humans, men and women alike, can be right or wrong, fail or succeed, love or be jealous. Greek Myths and the extraordinary deeds of their protagonists are to be found on everything, from ancient Greek pottery to temple decoration to stone statues, paintings, music, and poetry! Greek Myths offer my Kindergarten students a glimpse into the lives of the Ancient Greek people, their culture and art.

Lesson Plan Steps

My Classroom Lesson always starts with a warm welcome, a short sentence on what the Lesson will be about… “Imagine two powerful gods, one was Gaia/Earth, our planet, the other was Ouranos, the Sky above us… “and continues with the Myth.

Here are some interesting sites on Ouranos and Gaia: https://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Ouranos.html and https://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Gaia.html

My students love our next Activity… We go to the schoolyard, we lie down and “feel the earth”. Then we “look up and try to reach the sky”.

Finally, back in class, students are asked to do an Art Activity with different colored papers. Blue represents the sky, green the earth, yellow the sun and the stars, pink, red and lighter green, the plants and the flowers.

For student Artwork, please… Click HERE!