Woody Guthrie Elementary School Curriculum
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LINE | SHAPE | COLOR | PERSPECTIVE
Much of Woody's
art is characterized by strong use of line. Children will love the curvy
black lines of his car drawing (Series 21 #4) and the simple figure of
a man in "Seed." The simplicity of line and the lack of facial features
may make a child think, "I can do this. I can draw too." Woody's art gives
the child permission to be an artist.
Use the black
and white drawing, "Little Seed," to study the principle of line. Where
does the line look thick and dark? Where does the line get thinner? How
do you think that happens? How did Woody use dark lines and light lines
in this picture? Why do the strokes on the plant look so dark and thick?
What do you think the man in the portrait is thinking? Can you tell? Why
or why not? With young children pair this painting with the song "Little
Seed" from Woody's 20 Grow Big songs. Older students might listen to "Pastures
of Plenty" or "This Land is Your Land."
stand up and pretend they are picking crops that have grown tall like
the one held by the figure in "Little Seed". Play "Little Seed" or the
suggested music while they use their bodies different ways, reaching,
pulling, stretching. This warm-up should tune them into the movement of
their limbs and prepare them to draw figures.
After the movement
exercise, settle into painting. Oversize paper and pots of black paint
or ink should be partnered with pliable brushes that will permit young
artists to achieve the types of line Woody used in his paintings. After
paintings are dry hang them up for all to enjoy. Discuss various ways
students have used line, emphasizing their own input.
has observed a multitude of fence posts running along the edge of a forgotten
farm, he has watched tall telephone poles outline the horizon along a
track, he has witnessed a long train carrying freight and hobos away down
the line. These visions are reflected in the way he uses perspective in
his art work. Many of his paintings provide children with an excellent
opportunity to observe perspective. For example, "Woman and House" from
the Bound for Glory series shows a rounded, large figure of a woman in
the foreground. She appears close to the viewer and is the biggest element
in the painting. Near her, the lines of a fence recede into the back of
the picture, the fence posts shrinking in size with each step back, finally
disappearing into a point far away. Meanwhile, the house appears smaller
than the woman because it is far back.
Woman and House by Woody Guthrie
children to understand this use of perspective is just one goal;
inviting children to use perspective in their own studio work is