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Willingham Primary School

Giorgio Morandi Drawings: Years 5 & 6

Hello, lovely Year 5/6 children. The project that we were last doing in school was our paintings, inspired by the Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi (1890 - 1964). Only some of you were able to finish your artwork but they were already looking wonderful. I have added a post to the general art blog here.

I thought that, now that most of us are working from home for a while, we could look at Giorgio Morandi’s drawings and etchings in more detail. You may remember that, although Morandi was a successful artist and sometimes travelled the world, he was happy to spend much of his time in his apartment in Bologna, drawing and painting simple household objects and showing us the beauty in everyday things. I found a VR tour of his studio that you could have a look at here. The screen is blank for a short while before you enter the studio so do be patient!

Morandi is famous for his still life paintings (natura morta in Italian). A still life is a work of art which depicts an arrangement of inanimate (not alive!) objects. We will need to start our artwork by choosing some objects to draw. Ask the adults at home whether you can borrow some bottles or jars. They do not need to be anything special: empty plastic bottles that used to hold milk, juice, squash or shampoo are ideal. Do take care if you are using something breakable. Alternatively, you could take inspiration from one of Morandi’s own drawing or paintings, use objects from your imagination or this photograph taken in the art studio:

We have practised drawing simple outlines at school so I am hoping that you remember what we learned. You need to think of:

  • size: not too small!
  • symmetry: most bottles and jars are symmetrical. Even jugs usually have a symmetrical body.
  • angle: many of you found that your objects leaned off to the right. You can check that any vertical sides line up with the side of your paper.

You could practise drawing individual objects on a piece of scrap paper before your add them to your finished drawing. If you have a ruler, you could use it to draw any straight edges.

Here are some of the PowerPoint slides that we used to help us last time:

Ellipses can be tricky to draw so take care with those. An ellipse is the flattened circle which describes the top of a cylindrical object seen from the side:

Next, you need to plan your composition. Composition includes the word position and means where things are on the page. You should make sure that:

  • objects which are nearer the viewer overlap those behind them and are lower on the page.

  • the table edge should be behind the objects not underneath them.

Remember these versions, which we compared during our painting lesson:

Once you are happy with your composition and have drawn your objects, you can move on to shading. In order to shade, you need to decide from which direction the light is coming. Shading can bring a simple drawing to life:

Many students draw the shadow coming out towards the viewer. This will only happen if the light source (or one of the light sources) is behind the object. More commonly, the shadow will be to side of and behind the object. It may well be narrower than you think.

If you have real objects in front of you, you can spend some time observing their shadow. You can even experiment by using a torch and noticing how the shadows change, or place your objects close to a window if the sun is shining! Again, Morandi’s own drawings and etchings may help you.

You can choose whether to shade by adding a flat pencil layer or by using hatching and cross-hatching as Morandi has done in the etching above. Hatching means shading using closely spaced parallel lines. Cross hatching is hatching in more than one direction. You might want to start by practising your hatching technique. You could create a sample strip like this:

You can create a darker shade by making your lines closer together or by adding lines in another direction. You should take care with the lines but you do not need to use a ruler. Look at how Morandi uses this technique:

If you would like to see more examples of Morandi's work, there are several on the website of the New York Museum of Modern Art. Here is a piece of art that Madeleine completed before I posted this lesson: well done, Madeleine!

I always love to see the work that you have done at home. You could ask one of the adults at home to send any pictures by email: svarty@willingham.cambs.sch.uk. If you would like to test your knowledge of Morandi, I have created a quiz here . All the answers can be found in this post if you read it carefully: good luck!