Today we are going to talk about Georges Seurat. Seurat was born in 1869.

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1 Revised Sept FAMOUS ARTIST SERIES GEORGES SEURAT ( ) A Sunday Afternoon on the La Grande Jatte, , 6 ½ x 10 Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Supplies Needed: * Framed picture of A Sunday Afternoon on the La Grande Jatte * Laminated presentation pictures (16 Total) * Copies of outline drawing of La Grande Jatte for each student from the supply box * Colored paper to matte finished work * Magnifying glasses from supply box * Students will need their colored markers * Page of comics from newspaper *Project sample *Seurat and the Grand Jatte, by Burleigh Reference Books * Seurat Sarah Carr-Gomm * The Story of Painting H.W. & Dora Janson * Seurat Robert Herbert * Renoir Lesley Stevenson * Seurat Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat * Seurat Pierre Courthion * Seurat Norma Broude AHEAD OF TIME NOTE: Please make copies of outline of a portion of La Grand Jatte so there are enough for each student. Also, please photocopy master letter Famous Artist Series for each student. Please bring in a page from the Sunday comics as well. Today we are going to talk about Georges Seurat. Seurat was born in Present laminated picture #1 of Seurat Seurat s painting career was not very long only seven years. He showed his first work of art in an art show at the age of 24 and died when he was only 31. Seurat was a very shy and quiet man, and also very intelligent. His intelligence is what led him to his own style of painting. When Seurat began painting, it was 130 years ago! Most art was very dark. Almost all

2 paintings were of either famous historical events or were paintings of people in serious poses. Present laminated pictures #2 and #3 of old type of paintings. Talk about the dark colors in the paintings. Ask the students how these paintings make them feel. Do they make you feel happy? Would they add brightness to a room? Around this time, a new style of painting began to break through. It was called Impressionism. Artists began to use more lively and bright colors. They began to paint pictures of ordinary people doing everyday things, like dancing, sailing, and reading. Impressionism means that the focus of the painting is the mood or feeling the artist is trying to create, as opposed to simply duplicating of a setting. Present laminated pictures #4 and #5 of dancing and reading. See how different this new art was from the prior style in pictures #2 and #3. This new type of art was hard for people to accept. They had been used to the old way of painting. What was the old painting like? (very dark and serious). Look at the difference in these pictures. Present laminated picture #3 again. Discuss the fact that people were used to seeing the old type of art. They had never seen pictures of people doing everyday activities like reading, dancing or visiting people. People thought it was silly to paint a picture of such unimportant events. Seurat wanted to create his own new style. He was very intelligent and wanted to paint using scientific principles. No one had ever done this before. Present laminated picture #6. Ask the kids to look at this painting of Seurat s while you describe his new scientific way of painting. Seurat would take the colors in a painting and break them down into thousands of tiny dots. For example, if he wanted you to see a man in an orange shirt, he would paint the shirt out of thousands of tiny dots of reds and yellows. When a person was close to the picture, it would look very messy, but as they stepped away, the picture would become very clear and bright. It was a beautiful effect. This style of painting is called Pointillism. Even though his career was very short, he painted some of

3 the most beautiful and famous paintings using this new method Pointillism. Show the students the modern comic strip pages from the supply box or any you brought into the class. Discuss the idea of dot matrix printing; how they can physically see the dots composing the comic picture. Seurat s work was the origin of this idea. Show the students the Sunday comics. Point out how clear it is to see the dots in the newspaper. This idea of dots of color was something Seurat created. Modern technology, like computers or newspapers use this technique for creating images. Have the students use the magnifying glasses to see the dots more clearly. Here are a few more paintings Seurat painted. Present laminated pictures #7, #8 and #9. Talk about the tiny dots on the painting. Notice that they are not blended together. This is the most famous painting Seurat painted. Present framed picture A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It is called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. La Grande Jatte was a popular island on the Seine River near Paris where people would go for boating and relaxing. Seurat painted this picture in 1884 almost 120 years ago. It is 6 ½ feet tall and 10 feet wide. Using the room, show the students approximately how big the painting is. Present laminated picture #10 - the snapshot of the painting in the art museum. Point out how big the painting is compared to the person. Tell the students that this painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago. There are over 40 people in the picture. It was a huge project. It took Seurat more than two years to finish. He would bring all of his paints and equipment to the island every day for several months. This was not easy. They had no cars back then, no art stores to pick up paints, none of the modern conveniences we have today. He made many studies of the objects he wanted to be in the final painting. Seurat made 20 charcoal pencil drawings and over 30 practice paintings.

4 Present laminated pictures #11-15 of Seurat s studies for the final painting. Remind them that he made more than 50 of these practice paintings. He even used the tops of his father s old cigar boxes to paint on. He wrote to a friend that sometimes boys who were playing on the island would throw stones and shatter his paintings. He was very determined to keep going. When he finished all of his practice paintings, he worked on his final picture in his studio. Present laminated picture #16 of Seurat painting on a ladder. Discuss the size of the canvas and remind students that he covered the whole thing with tiny dots of color. Sometimes he would work all night by dim gaslight covering his huge canvas with tiny dots of color. In the end, this turned out to be one of the most famous and remarkable paintings of the century! PROJECT Show the students the sample art project. Talk about the tiny dots Seurat used to fill in the figures. Show them that one side of each figure or tree is darker. This shows how the light is shining on one side. Tell the students that to make it darker you add a darker color in the same color family. That is a color that blends well with the other color. For example; if you have a pink dress, you would add a little red on one side. This makes the picture look more real. If a shirt is blue, you would add purple to one side. If the tree is brown, you would add a little black to the edge..if it is yellow, you would add orange. (You can write these color families on the board) Tell the students to make sure to make tiny dots. Be patient. Remember, it took Seurat 2 years to paint his picture! If the students have time, they can use the magnifying glasses to examine Seurat s works. PLEASE LEAVE AT LEAST FIVE MINUTES AT THE END OF THE PRESENTATION FOR THE STUDENTS TO PRESENT THEIR WORK.

5 FAMOUS ARTISTS SERIES Seurat Today in class a volunteer parent presented the works of French Impressionist artist Georges Seurat to your child s class. They learned about his life and works. Ask your child about his style of painting, called Pointillism. They made an art project in the style of his work. The Art Institute of Chicago owns Seurat s most famous painting, Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte. In addition, the children s book, Molly Meets Mona and Friends by Minnerly talks about Seurat s work. Sincerely yours, Art Volunteer

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