The Dog Days of Summer

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Pets (Specifically Dogs )

Language Arts – Literature, Fiction, Nonfiction

Mathematics – Pictographs

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Artists Inspired By Dogs ( Picasso, Warhol, Hockney and many more )

Animal Portraits, Mediums ( paintings, drawing, prints, sculptures, cartoons, mosaics, ceramics ), Inspiration, Muses

We have reached the Dog Days of Summer. Well, you know the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” So, if life gives us Dog Days, why not look at some dogs and their artist owners?

How about printing out photos from the address above and ask students to arrange them into a pictograph according to dog types? If you do this, you will notice that the dachshund wins hands down as the most popular breed with three artists. You can read about all three dachshunds, their masters and see work these dog’s inspired here:

The story behind Picasso’s dachshund, Lump, can be found in this delightful nonfiction picture book:

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain  By Monica Kulling

A history of dogs as muses or inspirations in artworks and the stories behind them can be found in this very informative post:


Giacomo Balla’s “Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash” (Another dachshund!)

I like the following pet art lesson because of all the creative possibilities it has. The painting above can also be an inspiration for this lesson.

Two other interesting art related dog books are

Rockwell: A Boy and His Dog by  Loren Spiotta-DiMare ( a nonfiction book about Norman Rockwell”s quest for a dog model )


Dogs Night by Meredith Hooper ( a fictional account of dogs that switch places in famous paintings )


Edwin Henry Landseer’s “Dignity and Impudence”

The fourth graders in my county read an excerpt from the book, Because of Winn Dixie. Winn Dixie has a very perky personality. It just so happens that the British dog portrait artist, Edwin Henry Landseer liked to paint his subjects with personalities. Just as you can see in the painting above. A lesson and student activities can be found here:

More examples of his work can be found here:–DTmMvxxgIVgmw-Ch00eQAA&biw=1264&bih=768#imgrc=_

I’d love to know how I’m doing. You can get to the comment box by clicking on the post’s title and scrolling to the bottom. Hope to hear from you soon. Enjoy this summer day.  Visit again soon.

Missouri’s River Painter

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Westward Expansion, Occupations, Communities, Your State

Language Arts – Writing (Letter Writing, Poetry), Walt Whitman

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – George Caleb Bingham

Genre Paintings, Moving People


“Fur Traders Descending the Missouri”

Presently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is the exhibit, Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River.  Like Thomas Moran, Bingham painted frontier life west of the Mississippi River. Instead of merely painting the landscape, Bingham painted frontier people, specifically its workers, on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Paintings portraying everyday life are known as Genre paintings. For a short and sweet explanation about Bingham, read the Introduction and Frontier Life sections of this post.

Find a description of Bingham’s exhibit here.

There are exhibition objects here.


“The Jolly Flatboatmen”

Look here to find a lesson plan about Bingham’s flat boatmen painting with an introduction to Walt Whitman.

There is a delightful song depicting the artist’s life here.

Find Bingham’s life and work from a dog’s point of view here.

You can plug Bingham’s river paintings into this genre painting lesson plan.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, for a good moving people source look here.

I’ve provided lots of choices. Hope you find some gem to enhance one or more lessons!

Light And Only Light

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Light Sources, Artificial Light, Refection, Shadows

Language Arts – Concrete Poetry

Mathematics – Line Segments, Parallel Lines, Intersecting Lines, Shapes

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Dan Flavin, Minimalist Art

Line, Shape, Color, Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, Color Mixing, Nonobjective Art

In my maps post, I talked about the use of neon lighting as an unusual material in Nam June Paik’s “Electronic Superhighway”. Well, before artists started using neon lights in their artworks, a Minimalist artist named Dan Flavin created installations from common everyday fluorescent light tubes found at the hardware store. His art was minimal for two reasons. First, he used  everyday fluorescent tubes and didn’t try to disguise them in any way. Secondly, his images were simple lines and geometric shapes that were not supposed to represent anything in particular (In art we call this nonobjective.). Check out the following article for more information and an excellent correlation with Language Arts:

For a science unit on light, look back at  “Untitled (to Barnett Newman to commemorate his simple problem, red, yellow, and blue)” and think about the following items to review some of your light unit vocabulary. The colored fluorescent light tubes are artificial light sources. In art, red, yellow and blue are the primary colors. Mixed together, they make the other colors. Now look at the reflected light on the solid wall. The yellow tubes face outward, so they reflect yellow on the outside of the rectangle. The red and blue tubes face inward. Note the very thin red and blue reflections around the metal holding strips. Now look in the center of the rectangles, where does the purple reflection come from? There are no purple tubes. The red and blue reflections have mixed to form the purple. Flavin has mixed colors using only colored light.

I have to admit, when I first started researching this post, I thought it was going to be a pretty flimsy integration. I could only see help with a science light unit and a weak one at that. Next, I found the poetry correlation which is cool. Then came the cherry on top. I was reading the following post. With the mention of the words “intersecting and parallel lines of light”, “BAM” a mathematics correlation appeared. Look at the examples of Flavin’s work in the next three posts and try to find line segments, parallel lines, intersecting lines, and shapes:  (I like this post because one of the examples is a video time lapse showing changing  light through the day. Add shadows to the Light Unit)     ( Next to Flavin’s pieces in this post are the original artworks that inspired the work. You probably shouldn’t show the urinal.)

Using a variation of the following lesson, students could design their own light installation. Perhaps using mostly light tubes and incorporating at least one each line segment, parallel line, intersecting line, and shape. The basic lights will be primary colors and where they intersect mix the two colors ( to make secondary colors).

Thomas Yellowstone Moran

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Westward Expansion, National Parks, Geography

Science – Landforms

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Thomas Yellowstone Moran, William Henry

Painting, Photography, Landscapes, Foreground, Middle Ground, Background, Commercial Art (Posters)


Thomas Moran’s  “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”

Did you know that July is National Parks and Recreation Month? I just found out myself.  What timing because, in today’s post, I’m talking about the Yellowstone Park and how it came about. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll recall that Peter Max, a famous 70s Pop artist, helped save the Statue of Liberty. It just so happens that, Thomas Moran’s paintings and William Henry’s photographs of the Yellowstone area helped convince Congress to establish this area as a national park. Go Artists!!! You can find a more detailed explanation, some good questions and project ideas here:

And here:

Moran was very proud of his Yellowstone accomplishment. So much so, that he began calling himself Thomas Yellowstone Moran. Check out Moran’s signature at the following site. Can you find the T, Y, M and arrow incorporated into the first letter of his signature?

A kid friendly version of the Yellowstone story can be found here:

Look here for some examples of Moran’s paintings:

Moran’s paintings are landscapes. How about plugging Moran’s work into this GREAT landscape lesson?

Integrate geography by finding Yellowstone on this map:

For a science lesson, how about using Moran’s paintings to identify as many different kinds of landforms as you can?  I saw mountains, valleys, waterfalls, canyons, ponds and rivers. Can you find any more?

Students might make their own landscapes with torn paper:

 or magazine collage:

or watercolor:

I hear that teachers in a nearby school make Yellowstone Park posters as a culminating experience for their National Parks unit. They might find the poster making suggestions at this site helpful:

Find some examples of historic posters in this lesson plan:

You are probably saying, “That’s a lot of information!” And you would be right! Pick and choose what works for you.

The Grand Tour

I’ve devoted several posts to transportation. So, now I will devote a couple of posts to places one might travel in said vehicles.

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – European History, Geography, Communities

Language Arts – Writing

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal), Giovanni Paolo Panini

View Painters, Moving Human Figure

1024px-Canaletto_-_Bucentaur's_return_to_the_pier_by_the_Palazzo_Ducale_-_Google_Art_Project Canaletto’s “Bucentaur’s Return to the Pier by the Palazzo Ducale”

Our first journey will be back in time. In the 17th and 18th centuries, wealthy young men travelled to the major cities of Europe to complete the final portion of their formal education. This journey was called The Grand Tour. Venice and Rome were two of the cities these young men visited. Find these two cities on this interactive map:

As souvenirs to remember this exciting time in their lives, many of  these young men purchased art like the painting pictured above. Read more about Canaletto, Panini, and The Grand Tour here:

and here ( This is more of a reference for you.I definitely wouldn’t share the last two sentences with the students.):

Other examples of Canaletto’s work can be found at the following sites:

So, students could create a postcard in a community theme or places they travelled over the summer (a GREAT beginning of the school year project). Students could include themselves with family or friends like in view paintings. Find a postcard template here:

Find a moving people worksheet here:


Maps As Art

For my final post on patriotic symbols, I think we’ll look at maps in art.

Possible classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Symbols, Geography

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Jasper Johns, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Potter

Conceptual Art, Cameos, Profile

The maps we are about to see probably wouldn’t make a cartographer very happy. You see none of these maps will help you chart any destination. After the invention of the camera, artists were freed up from the job of documenting history and were allowed to explore themes from a more intellectual point of view. This is called conceptual art.

We’ll begin with maps by Jasper Johns. You may be saying to yourself, “His name sounds familiar!” That’s because I just talked about him in my last post. Remember, he experimented with many ways of creating the American Flag. Well, it just so happens that he did the same thing with the U.S. map. He created it with paint and stencils here:

and prints here:

(Yes, Johns is still repeating images!)

Find a video about the painting “Maps” here:

Nam June Paik was a Korean immigrant who came to the United States in 1964. He was influenced by the many neon signs and flashing images he saw while traveling U.S. super highways. He used unusual modern materials to create a room sized U.S. Map. Check the map out here:

Surprise!!!! I’d say that’s the only way to see it, unless you get to see it in person. Read more about his map, the artist, and a project idea at this site:

I ran across the following piece while visiting the Chrysler Museum this spring. Contemporary artist, Charlotte Potter, created cameos of all her Facebook friends’ profile pictures and placed them on a wall in the approximate geographic area she first met them. Can you see the general outline of the U.S. and Alaska?

I think that I can see  the outline of Texas and Maine.

Charlotte Potter talks about this work and her childhood in this video: