Art Heist – Copying From the Masters


….what are grade 1s, 2s, and 3s capable of?

Back in April my friend, colleague and our school’s music teacher asked me if my students could paint large copies of some famous Canadian paintings that could be used to decorate the back of the stage for our outdoor concert in June. At first I was a little hesitant and reminded her that my students were only 6 to 8 years old. I thought about it for awhile, found a book in the library of Canadian art and then asked my students which paintings they would like to copy. I tried to steer them towards art that had large shapes and simple lines.

My grade two class loved Lawren Harris’ iceberg art and insisted that they could do it. The first grade one class chose Emily Carr’s totem pole and the other grade one class were highly influenced by me and chose the Jack Bush abstract art. My older students, the grade 3s were asked to choose something from the North and they agreed to paint a Ted Harrison piece.

Normally I would encourage students to paint in an artist’s style but for this project we wanted the paintings to be recognizable. I cut out large pieces of heavy paper and taped them to the wall outside each classroom. I made a few marks on the mural paper as a guideline for the students so that they could draw the foreground, middle ground and background. With the Jack Bush painting I divided the paper into sections and the students took turns drawing the lines as I held the ruler. They then labelled each section with the colour and the student who would be filling it in.

The grade 3s impressed me the most with the Ted Harrison painting that they chose. I gave  them the least amount of assistance and they drew all the detail, including the whale without any help from me. It was also the first painting to be finished so I used some of the students from this class to assist the younger students with their paintings.

All four paintings were finished with no time to spare. We reinforced the back with duct tape and then taped them to the stage wall. They were perfect and fit the entire back wall. It was encouraging to hear parents actually naming the pieces or the the painters as they walked down the hall while the students were painting. They even recognized the Jack Bush piece because they had just come back from a field trip where his paintings were being featured. No, the names were not above the paintings during the painting process!

Here they are. You can getter a better idea of the size from the last photo where they are on display at the back of the stage.

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14 thoughts on “Art Heist – Copying From the Masters

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