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Art Around the Corner: Example Artworks from Fourth Grade Lessons
About a dozen rust-orange and golden-yellow apples and peaches are arranged on a white plate next to white and floral patterned cloths nestled around a white pitcher and bowl, all on a wood tabletop that tilts towards us in this nearly square still life painting. A curtain patterned with royal blue, olive green, and beige falls along or near the back wall of the room and rests on the table to our left. The white pitcher painted loosely with the suggestion of harvest gold and pale lilac-colored flowers sits amid the pooling folds of the curtain to our left. The white tablecloth is bunched under and next to it to our right, at the middle of the composition. The fruit is arranged on and around a white plate next to the tablecloth. A tall bowl with fluted sides and a ruffled edge sits behind the fruit, near the right edge of the table. The curving skirt of the table reaches nearly to the bottom edge of the canvas. All the objects in the painting are outlined with dark blue paint and the shadows are painted with patches of spruce and cobalt blue.

Why do artists make paintings?
Fourth graders focus on the topic of painting during their visits to the National Gallery of Art. To consider the question "Why do artists make paintings?" they study the works of Paul Cézanne and identify the subjects of paintings: portrait, landscape, still life, and genre. In the studio, students create their own still-life paintings by examining a fruit or vegetable closely, then painting a small detail, paying special attention to textures and color.

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As if on the water, we look onto a pale turquoise footbridge that arches over a pond lined with tall grasses and filled with petal pink and butter yellow waterlilies in this horizontal landscape painting. In the top third of the composition, the shallowly arched bridge nearly touches the top edge of the canvas, and it extends off each side. The shadows on the bridge are painted with eggplant purple. Bands of waterlilies gently zigzag into the distance on the surface of the water. The spring and kelly green grasses growing along the banks fill the space around and over the pond, and they blend into a screen of trees beyond that enclose the scene. The green of the grasses and trees is reflected in the surface of the water, as is the underside of the bridge. The scene is loosely painted with touches of vibrant color. The artist signed and dated the work with dark paint in the lower right corner: “Claude Monet 99.”

How do artists show nature?
To investigate the question "How do artists show nature?" students view a variety of still-life and landscape paintings. They learn about impressionism through the works of Claude Monet, consider how Thomas Cole used nature as symbol in The Voyage of Life, and examine realistic flowers and insects in a Dutch still life. In the studio, students closely observe and sketch real flowers, then add color on a transparency sheet with oil pastels. They layer and blend the oil colors to create vibrant, textured still lifes.

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Densely spaced lines and splatters in black, white, pale salmon pink, teal, and steel gray crisscross a rectangular cream-colored canvas in this abstract horizontal painting. The lines move in every direction. Most are straight but some curve slightly. The density eases a bit near the edges. Two sets of ghostly white handprints are visible at the upper corners. The artist signed and dated the painting in black paint in the lower left corner: “Jackson Pollock ’50.”
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As if from a hillside, we look across and down into a valley with a person sitting near a tall tree us and a train puffing smoke beyond, all enclosed before a band of mountains in the distance in this horizontal landscape painting. Closest to us, several broken, jagged tree stumps are spaced across the painting’s width. A little distance away, the person dressed in a yellow, broad-brimmed hat, red vest, and gray pants reclines propped on his left elbow near a walking path beside a tall, slender tree with golden leaves to our left. The green meadow stretching in front of him is dotted with tree stumps cut close to the ground. Beyond the meadow, puffs of white smoke trail behind a long steam locomotive that crosses a bridge spanning a tree-filled ravine, headed to our left. The ravine creates a diagonal line across the canvas, moving subtly away from us to our left. The train has climbed out of the valley, away from a cluster of brick-red buildings. The most prominent structure is a train roundhouse, a large building with a high, domed roof to the right of the tracks. Smoke rises from chimneys on long, warehouse-like buildings, and a steeple and smaller structures suggest a church and homes to our left. Densely spaced trees along the left edge of the canvas suggest a forest. Hazy in the distance, a row of mountains lines the horizon, which comes about halfway up the composition. The sky above deepens from pale, shell pink over the mountains to watery, pale teal above. The artist signed the work in tiny letters in the lower left corner: “G. Inness.”
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We seem to hover over a river across from a bridge with a city skyline beyond in this horizontal landscape, which is painted entirely with broad, visible brushstrokes in vivid, saturated colors. The river spans nearly the width of the canvas, and the riverbank is lined to our left with a row of several buildings between us and the bridge. Those buildings are outlined with royal blue and filled in with mostly flat areas of color in coral pink, mint green, tangerine orange, and pinkish-tan. Letters across the top of the building farthest from us reads “BREVER.” Eight boats are tied up at the foot of the buildings. The pointed hulls of three extend into the scene from the lower left corner, painted in marigold orange and outlined in cobalt blue. Five more boats, with rounded prows and hulls and painted with lapis blue and muted aqua, line up like a row of empty shoes. The bridge runs from behind the tallest building to our left across and off the canvas, and is painted with deep lapis-blue with crimson-red Xes crisscrossing the span to suggest trestles. The front faces of the pilings below are also highlighted with crimson red. The river fills most of the bottom half of the painting. The water to our left is painted as a field of coral pink with a few, short horizontal baby and cobalt blue strokes, suggesting reflections of the boats and a bridge piling. A narrow band of kiwi green and sky blue lines the pink field to our right. Next to it, the water is painted as short, horizontal, disconnected strokes and dots mostly in bumblebee yellow with some strokes in bubblegum pink and pale burnt orange, all against the off-white of the canvas below. The final zone, to our right, is more densely painted with short dashes in indigo, turquoise, and aqua. Beyond the bridge, the skyline is painted in silhouette with the spiky spires of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to our left in mint green and a mass of shorter buildings in periwinkle blue to our right. Four clouds of pale yellow billow off the bridge in front of the skyline. The sky above is painted with short and long vertical strokes of butter yellow, rose pink, pale orange, and a few areas of watermelon pink. The artist signed the work with cobalt-blue paint near the lower left corner: “a derain.”
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Three, tall sailing ships, each with three masts and full sails, float in calm, arctic waters, surrounded by fragments of icebergs and ice floes amid a smattering of arctic animals, including polar bears, narwhal whales, seals, and birds, in this horizontal landscape painting. The horizon line comes about a quarter of the way up the composition so the sails and rigging of the ships are shown against the sky. The clouds have ivory tops and lavender-purple undersides, and they curve in a C-shaped bank around the clear blue sky at the top right corner. The three ships closest to us are spaced evenly across the composition, with the left-most the closest, and therefore largest. The ship to our right is set a bit farther back, and the center ship is the farthest away. A rowboat holding several men has pulled alongside the boat to our left, and more men haul massive slabs of whale blubber up the side of the ship. More men walk on an ice floe nearby. Close inspection reveals more rowboats around and beyond these ships, and several more ships fading into the hazy distance along the horizon. Jagged edged chunks of icebergs as tall as the ships float around them. Closer to us, a trio of seals sits on an ice floe near the lower center of the composition, and a mother stands nose to nose with her cub to our right. Two narwhal whales with long tusks growing from their noses break the surface of the water between us and the ships, as does a whale’s tail near the boat to our right. Two walruses with long tusks sit on a floe near the center ship. A couple dozen birds, many white with black wing tips, fly low over the surface of the water across the painting.
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