Monday, October 3, 2011

Franz Marc...second steps

Well a few people showed interest in doing a collaborative lesson...or at least were enthusiastic about the prospect of something Franz Marc inspired.

I've been trying hard to do research on Franz Marc and finding surprisingly little. Marc was a young German man who was interested in theology but the son of an artists and as a young adult attended art school. He came in contact with Van Gogh, Matisse and Gauguin. He shared Van Gogh's interest in spirituality and color symbolism. I see why he liked Gauguin's saturated colors and Matisse's organic shapes, Fauvist colors and less realistic drawing style. I learned he died at age 36 when killed in WWI and I have found a few quotes from his letters to Kandinsky who he founded the Blue Riders group with. The other books and articles I have found about him are in German, and while I took 6 years of German in school, I'm finding my translating abilities to be limited.

There is a Scholastic Arts from 2009 about Franz Marc called Working with Color. Anyone have a copy of it? I'm having trouble getting my hands on one.

So onto the lesson. I'm going to try a few different approaches and post them. I also encourage anyone else with ideas to make a sample and post it. For this first try I only used oil pastel and did the animal first and background second. I asked my husband what animal he would be and what color would symbolize him. He choose blue and a dog and then specified our dog Dexter. OK I said. For the setting he choose the forest because we like to go camping and he wanted to look up because he is an optimistic person so I have him looking up at a star/sun thing.

I started by drawing the dog and my first drawings were too realistic for a Franz Marc lesson so I had to loosen up my approach. I will encourage the kids to go simple and not too detailed. I also wish I had drawn my dog bigger. Then I made the setting, a sun/star thing, a pine tree and an organic shaped ground.

Then I outlined the dog in dark blue. While looking at Marc's work I noticed a lot of complementary color pairs. So I made the ground orange. The tree as green so I made the sun/star red. I think it would be helpful to ask the kids to use two complementary color pairs for the majority of their work.
why does blogger do this?

Next it was time to color the dog. I found a light, medium, dark blue and white. I tried to show some modeling like Marc did by choosing a few highlight areas and working my lights and darks. I would have to give the kids a lot of guidance on this part.

Next I found 3 oranges and worked on the ground making sure to put a darker orange/red shadow underneath my animal. This part was pretty easy. Next I went up to the sun/star and worked in reds and a little orange...also easy to do and demo to the kids.

Over to the tree and I decided to add a row of tree's in the background that overlapped and got smaller to show depth and space. Maybe I should have left it be at just one tree. I'll stick to one tree in the next sample. Once again I found three greens and worked lights and darks.

and now we are left with the sky area. Part of me wants to use watercolor paint with it and salt but I don't know how Franz Marc-esque that would be. I'm also not sure about the sky color. A purple maybe?

So now it is time for feedback on attempt #1....what is on track and what could be done differently. For my next attempt I will do something with paint.


  1. I like this attempt. I agree, the dog should be bigger. I don't think watercolor and salt would be Marc-esque either.

    As for the sideways photo...I've learned it you go to your settings and choose the old editor your pictures will post right side up. Another way of fixing it is going into a photo editing program, rotating your pic and then cropping it just slightly and resaving it under another file name and then when you post it will be the right way. Seems a lot of hassle..I wish Blogger would fix it.

  2. Franz Marc is one of my favorites! I love how bold and bright the oil pastels look. Two years ago my 4th graders created a Franz Marc inspired horse. We used oil pastel for the majority of the work, but then washed over the entire image with watercolor paint. It created a very ethereal effect!

  3. I love your Franz Marc project because I have always loved his style even though I knew little about his life. I remember feeling shocked and saddened when I learned about his early death, so unexpected by the body of work he left behind.
    I have so many things going on in the art room right now, but am interested in where your exploration will take you. I agree that the animals should be bigger, but I think you're on the right track with his use of warm and cool complements. I like the idea of wavy landscape lines, love how his animals curve and flow. The floating cows are amazing. I also love his use of the color pink.
    Good luck with your project. I can't wait to see where it goes.

  4. Just ran into a book that may interest you! Have you noticed Eric Carle has a new book titled "The Man Who Painted a Blue Horse"...about Franz Marc, the man who painted the world as he saw it. Here's a link if you're interested:

  5. Here is a link to a video of Eric Carle talking about Franz Marc!

  6. There is quite a good You tube video of his work that is like an animation - need to know how to download for use is schools as YouTube is often not allowed

  7. Check out the PDF about A Franz Marc art lesson from the panthers K-12 when googling scroll down and you will find a link to the Working with Colour (scholastic magazine) the teacher had scanned it in very usefull I know this is late