by Amy Peters, Visual Arts, K-5 Teacher
As the beloved poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. What would the world be like without dogs?”
And, so, with this joyfulness in mind, TCS students in K-5 spent time this winter during visual arts to create a portrait of a beloved dog. Exploring the ideas of line, shape, proportion, balance, and composition, students began sketching their dog friends on stretched canvas panels. Then they added acrylic and tempera paints to complete the paintings.
We also looked at dogs depicted in art – following a timeline. We began with a dog mosaic discovered at Pompeii (c. 50 A.D.), showing a dog and the words "cave canem." The original “beware of dog” sign! From there we moved forward to the work of an English painter Gainsborough who created an iconic dog painting in the 1700s which lives at the Yale Art Gallery. Next up: Seurat's depiction of A Sunday at La Grande Jatte, complete with pointillist dog. Then, we looked at an absolutely elegant Picasso line drawing of a dachshund – seemingly magically created using only one line. Next, we looked at a series of Warhol images showing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Then, Jeff Koons’ amusing and brilliant giant balloon-animal dogs. We also looked at Dogs Playing Poker, the single-most reproduced piece of art.
In part, this project was inspired by Country School Kindergartener Max Dias who, indeed, has a very special place in his heart for dogs.