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Winslow Homer - Movement, Space, Proportion


 Our second project this year we focused on the American Artist, Winslow Homer.  Born in 1836 in Boston, Mass., Winslow Homer became an important American painter. He began his career painting illustrations for magazines such as Harper’s Weekly. During the Civil War, Harper’s Weekly sent Homer to sketch battle scenes and capture artistically the daily lives of soldiers. When we returned to his studio he continued creating war-related scenes. During the early part of his career as a painter, Homer mainly painted images of rural life. He began working in oil paint and focused on painting things exactly as they appeared: he was a realist. He lived in Paris France for a year among the Impressionists but was not directly influenced. In 1873 Homer began to use watercolors. He fell in love with watercolor and after this time rarely left home without watercolor paints and paper. His loose style influenced many painters after him including N.C. Wyeth and Edward Hopper. (I’ll post on these artists at a later date.)   When Homer began traveling in 1875, he found that he loved the sea. He spent much of the rest of his life painting seascapes. It is his seascapes that are the most popular and famous of Homer’s works.

     As a class we analyzed Homer’s work and discussed his use of movement and space within his work.  We also noticed that many of his pieces have a strong story element to them.  The children practiced proportional drawings of ships trying  to capturing movement within the water  Next they tried to capture the movement of the water by using layering techniques in line and color.  They were encouraged to add details in to help the viewer understand that it is more than just a seascape, but rather a snapshot of a larger event taking place.  As you view their work ask the questions, “What is going to happen next? What happened right before this was painted?”  The visual tension in some of their scenes would make Homer beam with excitement.

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