Monday, February 06, 2012

Hands of God, Michelangelo, and Half-Grown Kids

A couple of weeks ago I assigned a drawing project of the human hand. Students (all 5th and 6th graders) had to draw their non-drawing hand as it rested on the table with the index finger touching the thumb. For all of them it was a first experience at hand drawing, and super challenging.

Drawing hands is advanced work, but we were studying Renaissance artist Michelangelo who considered himself primarily a sculptor, not a painter. He is arguably the greatest sculptor of all time. (Think "David.")

Yes, he was the mastermind and master artist who painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome, but he only consented to doing the job because Pope Julius II asked him to, and just don't say no to the Pope.

Can I get an "Amen" if you're glad that Michelangelo said a subordinate "yes" to this rhetorical request?

I try to throw in tidbits of trivia as I teach, and often it's of the culinary sort because I'm often hungry as I work off calories handing out art supplies. Did you know that Michelangelo hailed from Caprese, Italy? I asked them. No, they didn't. Well, have you ever heard of a caprese salad? No, they hadn't, so I told them it has the three colors of the Italian flag--tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Jot that down in your memory, I say; you never know when you might need it to answer a final Jeopardy question.

Moving on to the real reason we gather every Thursday, which would be to learn the grammar of art, as my principal says...

I was impressed with my students' tenacity, as well as the results by these novices, but in fairness did not grade this piece. After all, the first time I drew a hand (maybe three years ago?) I would have received a citation from the Art Police, not an A, B, or C.

The main thing I want to impart to my students whether in art, history, geography, or English, is the greatness of God. (I am so thankful to have the privilege of teaching in Christian schools and homeschool co-ops in which I can speak freely of His greatness.) In this particular lesson, students learned to appreciate God's creative design of the human hand by looking at it in detail--its creases, knuckles, curves, texture, nails--as well as how difficult it is to replicate the hand using a pencil, paper, and forty minutes on the clock.

(They also learned that their teacher's hands include age spots, wrinkles, and more fatty tissue, but they graciously didn't point those things out. I did it for them.)

Naturally, I couldn't resist being corny as they finished their drawings. "Give yourselves a hand. You did a great job today."

The corn is what keeps them coming back. I'm sure of it.


Laurie said...

Amen! Excellent study and practice!
The corn surely keeps them coming back… that and their parents! ;)
I did not know the food bit!
(The "grammar of art"! ILike it!!)

Joyce said...

Having ripped a tendon in my thumb a few years back I can attest to the intricate design of God's creation there. As soon as you are unable to use your thumb you realize that the human hand is something pretty amazing.

I am also very well acquainted with the Caprese salad : )

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

What an interesting entry! Never heard of a Caprese Salad, but I just bet I would love it!

Hey, you could give your students some Silly Putty and it would build up their hand muscles for better art work. :o)

Have a great week funny lady!

Brenda said...

Oh I'm sure! Your sense of humor is probably something your students look forward to. I know I do!
How fun it would've been to have a teacher like you when I was growing up.