PDF Art Lesson & Video Instruction

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Many of the art projects I introduce to my older students introduce an artist or an art movement. Sometimes, because of the teaching details of the art, the lessons can take 3-4 class sessions to finish. This lesson is an exception. Introducing Katsushika Hokusai and his print, The Great Wave of Kanazawa, was contained within two, 45-minute art sessions. The trick to the quick completion of this lesson was not cutting corners on the introduction of the artist or hurrying the children along, it was due to two things: a very easy drawing and cake tempera paints.

Drawing I included a video for this lesson because I wanted to show you exactly what I say to the students during the drawing portion. I can only say that when you break down the drawing into three sections, almost every single child can replicate it. This is so empowering. And for the creative ones, I assure them that the painting process is filled with creative interpretation.

Cake Tempera If you don't have a set of tempera cakes in your classroom, you should buy a set. They last forever and are just so easy to pull out from a cupboard. You don't have to wash or clean them. Just stack them in your cupboard when the lesson is done. The only drawback with cake tempera is that they can sometimes be a bit chalky to the touch when dry.

Here are two brands that I like: Blick Tempera Cakes and Alphacolor Biggies

Enjoy the lesson!


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ABOUT the artist



Katsushika Hokusai is Japan's most famous painter and wood cutter. He was born in Edo,Japan (now called Tokyo). He loved to draw as a child. Hokusai was most famous for his woodblock prints. This is a type of art that uses wood and a carving tool. The artist cuts and chips away the wood until he sees his picture develop. When he likes what he sees, he spreads ink over the wood. Then, he places a piece of paper on top of the ink and presses so that the ink prints onto the paper. The tricky thing is that you need to make a new "block" for each color in the picture. That is why woodcut prints do not have many colors. Towards the latter part of Hokusai's life, many famous painters began to recognize and be influenced by his work. Artists like Van Gogh, Degas and Monet collected his prints and used them as inspiration. Today, you can see Hokusai's influence on todays' artists in the form of the animation style "manga".

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The Great wave off Kanagawa, 1830-1832, ink on paper, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Art Institute of

Chicago and The British Museum in London


The Great Wave off Kanazawa is one in a series of woodcuts entitled, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Mt. Fuji can be seen from many angles in this series and in this piece of art, it is placed in the far distance. It almost looks like another wave. It stands quietly and observes the power of the great wave as it crashes into three tiny boats filled with fishermen. Hokusai uses Japanese characters in the form of a stamp to sign his name. You can see it in the upper left corner of the art. The ocean is very important in Japanese culture. Japan is made up of seven islands with almost 19,000 miles of coastline. Back then, you couldn't go to an art store to buy your paints. Colors were just being invented. The newest color was called Prussian Blue, brought to Japan by the Dutch, and this is the color Hokusai used for many of his water-themed woodcuts.

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