Famous artwork? Check. Showcase for children’s creativity? Check. Popular culture? Fun? Low prep for busy Art Parent in December? Check, check, check. MaryAnn Kohl’s “Gothic Paste-Up” lesson in Great American Artists for Kids may just be the perfect art lesson.
Inspired by Ms. Kohl, 23 second-graders and I immersed ourselves in Grant Wood’s iconic work, American Gothic, yesterday. A photograph of the actual house Wood used as a model for his painting is downloadable for free here.
I brought in one photo per student that was pre-mounted on black paper with an explanation of the lesson on the back. Before the children went to work on their figures, we read portions of Grant Wood (Getting To Know the World’s Greatest Artists), defined parody and looked at examples of American Gothic parodies.
Our Favorite Grant Wood Facts
1. As a child, he drew pictures with burnt sticks that his mother gave him from their wood stove.
2. His job during World War II was to paint camouflage on the tanks.
3. The models for the figures in American Gothic were the artist’s sister and their family dentist.
As the children worked, I encouraged them to think of a title for their art (“______ American Gothic”), which they added, along with their signatures, to the black frames with Sharpie Metallic markers. Once finished, each child received a box of Newman’s Own raisins (the Newman’s Own logo is an American Gothic parody) and scratch paper for doodling with a stick, as Grant Wood did as a child.