Emily Carr On the Edge of Nowhere

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1 Emily Carr On the Edge of Nowhere Grades 1 3 Learn about the life and work of Emily Carr by: Drawing like Emily Painting like Emily Writing like Emily Untitled (Seascape), 1935 Oil on paper on board 26.5 x 40.5 cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Anonymous Gift A three part series of activities designed to fill an afternoon or to be used on their own. Great for working with a buddy class.

2 Part 1 Emily s Story (Approximately 20 minutes) Objective: Present the story of Emily s life and work using the poster size reproductions (see Appendix Fig. 1-6) and background story as follows. Story: Emily Carr was a little girl who wanted to be an artist. She lived many years ago in Victoria near Beacon Hill Park with her two older sisters and her mother and father. At the time, girls were expected to learn only things that would help them get married, keep house and be mothers. Emily didn t want that. She wanted to have adventures, be with animals, travel places and be an artist. Emily s father liked her ideas and her love of being in the outdoors. He often took Emily on long walks in the fields and forests. They explored and talked about the plants and animals they saw. When Emily was a teenager her mother and father died. She still wanted to be an artist so she went to art school far away from her home and learned how to draw and paint with watercolours. In Emily s first paintings, she tried to make things look real just like a photograph. After that she started making all kinds of pictures that people liked. Emily then travelled across the ocean on a boat and went to art school in London. When Emily came back, she opened her own art school and taught children how to draw and paint. As a grownup, Emily still loved to be outside. She travelled to see new things and put the things she saw in her paintings. She travelled up the coast of British Columbia and went to Alaska. She made paintings about the places she visited. Emily became friends with many First Nations people and included them and their villages in her paintings. Later, Emily made another trip across the ocean to Europe where she discovered a new way of painting. She used bright colours and didn t always paint things exactly as people expected. Sometimes she painted the water red. Sky was sometimes yellow. She left out some parts and added new things. When she got back to Victoria, people were shocked by her paintings. But Emily loved this new way of painting and how she felt when she made art. People were surprised when she painted trees that looked different; trees that looked like they might be telling stories or trees that were dancing. People made fun of Emily and laughed at her work. They didn t want to see Emily s pictures or buy them. They didn t want their children to take art lessons from her. For a long time Emily stopped painting.

3 Finally, Emily met a group of artists in Eastern Canada who were sharing ideas and working together in the outdoors. One of these artists loved Emily s paintings and told her to make the paint tell the story of how she felt when she was out in nature; to let the paint show how trees and clouds and water move and are alive. She travelled around Victoria painting. She took a little trailer, along with her animal pets, away from the city and into the woods. She painted and painted. She was happy. Emily Carr knew she was an artist even if people didn t want to buy her paintings. Emily became sick and couldn t paint much but wrote stories and told about what it was like to paint. She became known as a writer. Before she died, Emily gave many of her paintings to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Victoria didn t have an art gallery at that time. Emily also gave hundreds of paintings to the BC government where they were stored away for years and years. It has taken people a long time to begin to appreciate Emily s paintings. Now we understand that she was trying to show people a new way of making and seeing art. Emily painted to share her experience of being in nature and the wilderness. Emily told us what she was feeling when she looked at a big open sky, or stood in a forest of tall trees. She shared her feelings when she stood on the cliff and looked out across the ocean and felt like she was at the edge of the world, on the edge of nowhere. Today Emily Carr is known as one of Canada s greatest artists. People all over the world know about her paintings and come to see them in galleries and museums. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has many of Emily Carr s paintings and drawings. You can see many of them in the Gallery s special exhibition, Emily Carr On the Edge of Nowhere.

4 Part 2 Painting like Emily: Studio Project (Approximately 60 minutes) Materials: Newsprint to cover tables, small buckets of water Overhead transparency sheets and pens Pencils and plain white paper 8 1/2 x 11 sheets Landscape photographs or pictures from magazines suitable for tracing Water color paints and large brushes Finger paint and glossy white paper Description of Activity: Emily Carr s work evolved over time. Three work stations, each with different activities, are designed to help students view and experience the transition in Carr s art work. Hands on experiences will present different approaches to seeing, thinking, feeling and doing. Explain and demonstrate each activity then rotate students through all three stations. Station 1 Drawing like Emily: Making things look real Objective: By tracing, students experience what it is like to depict a subject realistically. Explain that Emily s early technique duplicated what she was seeing and reproduced the landscape as realistically as possible in the picture or painting that she made. (Refer to Fig. 2, Beacon Hill Park) Demonstrate placing a photograph under the transparency. Using the pen, trace around the objects in the picture to make a copy of the original. Remove the transparency and place it over a piece of plain white paper. The outline will appear more clearly for the student to view. Instruct students to use the pens on the plastic sheets only. If they wish, students can make their own outline drawing using pencil on paper.

5 Station 2 Painting like Emily the Impressionist Objective: Students will represent a forest using simple, repetitive painting strokes with progressively larger painting strokes to indicate perspective. Explain that Emily did not always make exact copies of what she saw in nature. She discovered she could make changes in her paintings by leaving things out or using colours that were not real. Refer to (Fig. 3, Totem Walk at Sitka.) Demonstrate how a forest can be conveyed with multiple brush strokes using progressively larger paint brushes. Load a small paint brush with paint and using a vertical stroke make small vertical marks in succession across the top of the paper. Load a medium size brush with paint and repeat, overlapping the first row of marks slightly at the bottom portion of each mark. Load a large brush with paint and repeat. There should be three rows of marks across the paper with each row becoming progressively larger in appearance. (See example Fig. 7) Instruct students to explore using different sizes of marks or different colours of marks. Encourage them to make one painting with marks that fill the whole page. Station 3 Painting like Emily the Modernist Objective: Students will represent movement in sky, trees or grass using a variety of lines (angled, curved, wavy) and paint application. Students will use a change of horizon line to alter the point of view. Explain that Emily found new ways to put paint on paper to represent her thoughts, feelings and ideas. (Refer to Figs. 4 and 5, Juice of Life and Blue Sky). Artists can express the idea of wind, for example, by making wavy marks in the water or wind driven clouds by making swirling marks in the sky. Demonstrate the idea of moving clouds in the sky by wetting the shiny side of finger painting paper then adding paint on top. Using the side of a clenched fist and using repeated circular action, spread the paint over the paper. Demonstrate how different parts of the hand and fingers used repeatedly can portray different patterns and represent different motion ideas. Demonstrate how artists show landscape and sky meeting a horizon line by pre-folding a sheet of paper. (Hold on to the bottom edge of the paper and make a fold approximately one third of the way up the paper. The fold will become the horizon line and the bottom third, the landscape with the sky filling the remaining two thirds of the painting.) Use the painting technique previously demonstrated to depict a moving sky and blowing grass for example. Instruct students to use one colour for the sky and another for the landscape so they can easily see where sky and land meet.

6 Part 3 Thinking and Writing like Emily: Writing Project (Approximately 40 minutes) Materials: Class chalk board & magnets Pocket chart Markers Construction paper strips in 4 colors cut to fit into a pocket chart Description of Activity: Students develop a word bank and as a group with the teacher s guidance, write a poem using a diamante structure. Students are then invited to write their own poem. Example: Sky cloudy, summery moving, swirling, bumping meeting the green and growing heaving, stretching, bending dancing, whispering trees Use the following structure to construct a three-line poem (Grades 1 & 2) or a 7 line poem (Grade 3) depending on the developmental level of students: Line 1 - one word the subject or thing you are writing about (blue paper) Line 2 - two describing words (green paper) Line 3 - three more describing words (purple) Line 4 - four word phrase (this is the transition sentence from subject #1 to subject #2) Line 5 - three participles (ending in -ing, telling about subject #2) Line 6 - two adjectives (describing subject #2) Line 7 - one noun (subject #2)

7 Procedure: Written instructions for Grade 1 adapt as required for other grade levels. Choose one of Emily s paintings of the sky. Explain that the class, as a group, will write a short poem about one of Emily Carr s paintings of the sky. We will title the poem, Sky. Help me spell S k y (Print on one of the four coloured papers and attached to the board with a magnet.) Next, we need words that tell about the sky - describing words (brainstorm and print individually onto paper in the second colour.) Keep printing as long as students have ideas. Now we need words that tell about what is happening to the clouds in the sky - doing words (transcribe as above onto a paper in the third color). Direct students to pocket chart. Construct the poem with students help. Let them choose the words with guidance. Read the poem together. Rewrite and read again. Provide students with a page for them to print their own poem. The page should be colour coded with lines corresponding to the structure. Students can choose their own words to print, taking words from the pocket chart or referring to the word bank. Extension Activity: Mount the students landscape paintings from the station activity onto construction paper. Provide a second colour-coded paper with the poem structure, instruct students to use the structure provided and write a poem about their picture. Mount this beside or below the student painting.

8 Appendix: Fig. 1 Untitled (Seascape), 1935 Oil on paper on board 26.5 x 40.5 cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Anonymous Gift

9 Fig. 2 Beacon Hill Park, 1909 Watercolour on paper 35.2 x 51.9cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Donated by N.E. Davies, Brian, Bruce and Kevin Davies

10 Fig. 3 Totem Walk at Sitka, 1907 Watercolour on paper 38.5 x 38.5cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The Thomas Gardiner Keir Bequest

11 Fig. 4 Brittany Coast, 1911 Watercolour on paper 29.5 x 26.1 cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Gift of Major H.C. Holmes

12 Fig. 5 Juice of Life, 1939 Oil on canvas 64.4 x 52.7 cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Gift of Dr. Ethlyn Trapp, Vancouver

13 Fig. 6 Blue Sky, 1936 Oil on canvas 93.5 x 65 cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The Thomas Gardiner Keir Bequest

14 Fig. 7 Photo Credit: Sherry Willing

15 Fig. 8 Above the Gravel Pit, 1936 Oil on paper 61 x 91.1cm Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Anonymous Gift

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