Ideas for a Baroque Art Lesson

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The baroque art style that dominated the 17th century explored tension, emotion and expression. It used detail and light to create a mood and send a message through a work of art. Introduce art students to the baroque style of art and encourage them to create their own works of art using techniques from the era.

1 Gesture Drawing

Study how a gesture portrays emotion.

Use this lesson in art classes from fourth to 12th grade. Show students pictures of paintings from the baroque era. Notice the expressive and dynamic portrayal of people in the paintings. Talk about what the use of movement and expression conveys to the viewer. A simple gesture can portray anger, confusion, joy, passion or sorrow. One at a time, have students pose in the center of the room, making a gesture. Ask the class to make a gesture drawing of the classmate, using pencil to make a sketch of the person. Guess what feeling the model is portraying with the gesture.

2 Moral Dilemma

Many works of art during the baroque era dealt with moral and ethical issues. Show the class several examples of baroque art that seem to convey a message or a moral sentiment. Discuss what the artist is trying to communicate through the art. Discuss how modern-day advertising sends a message, for example, in anti-drug and alcohol campaigns and political campaigns. Ask students to make their own moral message by cutting out pieces from magazine pages to make a collage. Discuss what message the collage conveys and how it does so.

3 Baroque Cake

Make a cake with elements of baroque architecture.

Use this lesson for advanced art students who have taken a ceramics class previously. Show the class pictures of sculptures and architecture from the baroque period and discuss the characteristics of the art from this time. Have students work in pairs or groups. Ask them to draw a plan for a cake that they can build with clay, incorporating the baroque style with symmetry, columns and ornate details. The students create the cake with clay and ceramics tools and then fire the clay in a kiln. Decorate the cake with accessories, such as beads, in the spirit of the baroque era.

4 Shadow Self-Portrait

Try this self-portrait technique with middle school or high school students. Artists during the baroque period emphasized the contrast between light and dark, infusing shadows or bright places in their pieces. Have students examine portraits of various artists from the baroque era, such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, taking note of the use of light in the paintings. Talk about what feelings the use of light portrays in each picture. Ask students to create a self-portrait in this style, using paint, pastels, charcoal or pencil.

Pauline Lovingood began writing professionally in 2011. She writes about health, fitness, medicine and travel for various websites. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in health and human Sciences.