Rousseau Jungle Landscapes

This is an oldie but goodie for my 3rd graders.  I find the years that I decide to embark on this landscape adventure, 3rd graders love it and have such pride in their completed artwork.  This is important for the effectiveness of an art lesson.  I have certainly tried other ways to teach depth but I always come back to this one.  I love that Henri Rousseau is a well-known Folk artist and I think it is pretty neat that he was never to a jungle yet he painted jungles based on pictures.  This is a fact that most 3rd graders can relate to … not many have been to a jungle. 
The focus of the project was to show depth using many techniques from dividing our space into foreground, middle ground, and a background to overlapping and size variation.  We even touched on how the appearance of colors and details lessen with greater distances.  Another thing we noticed with Rousseau’s jungle landscapes was the vast variety of plant life.  We also saw the rainbow of greens any how this variety makes the artwork much more interesting.
After some visual thinking strategies involving Rousseau’s art, we began by carefully observing and drawing a variety of plants.  Then we got to drawing some landscapes.


Surreal Perspectives

Rulers really do make all the difference.  4th graders discovered this when drawing in 1 point perspective to show depth. Though, drawing to give the illusion of space wasn’t the only thing we did.  We discovered the fantastical world of Surrealism, where visual artists and authors use juxtaposing objects or ideas.  Why? Well, to cause the viewer to ask, “why.”  When viewing Surrealism, people often create a story that is inspired by personal experiences and feelings to make sense of what they see. Look at 4th grades’ surreal perspective drawings; try it … you’ll see.

The artist Rene Magritte is a well known Surrealist.  This painting and others inspired our ideas.