What Light through Yonder Window Breaks? after Learning Ancient Art Technique, Students Look within to Find Images for Their Frames

By Hartman, Kari | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 30, 2001 | Go to article overview

What Light through Yonder Window Breaks? after Learning Ancient Art Technique, Students Look within to Find Images for Their Frames


Hartman, Kari, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kari Hartman Daily Herald Staff Writer

The assignment to sixth-graders at St. Raphael School may have seemed simple at first.

Students were asked, during an art enrichment program, to paint a window and the scene visible through that window.

But the sixth-graders weren't just using paint. They had to create their windows using gesso, a type of plaster.

The substance was the same texture of a milkshake, students said. A really, really thick milkshake.

Local artist Angela Graefenhain recently led a class at the Naperville school that taught students about early Greek and Roman art. She taught them about frescos, wall paintings created by applying paint to fresh plaster.

Graefenhain wanted students to know what Roman artists in about 20 B.C. went through to bring their visions to life.

"I don't know how they did it," sixth-grader Tim Martin said as he tried to paint a glimpse of his own back yard. "The colors don't show up as well."

Students applied paint to the white gesso over and over to make colors show up. Paint that was intended to look brown started off as a light red. Blues were difficult to shade from a light periwinkle to a royal blue.

"It's kind of hard to get the picture exactly as you want it," said student Nathan Laframboise. "The gesso kind of smears the paint and turns the paint different colors."

The art lesson taught sixth-grader Nick Sullivan how hard it would have been to paint with the materials early Romans had.

That was exactly the point of Graefenhain's lesson. …

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