Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was an amazingly talented painter, architect, and poet, but his favorite art form was sculpting. He was probably the most talented sculptor who ever lived, perhaps even the most talented artist who ever lived. His art was dramatic, detailed, and always perfect. The people he sculpted were usually twisting or displayed in striking (or maybe awkward) poses. All this drama makes Michelangelo a link between the traditional Renaissance art and the Mannerist movement (which bridges the Renaissance and Baroque periods). Join us as we chate about Michelangelo’s personality, his life, his works and a little discussion about how to handle all the nudes when we’re teaching our kids about Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists.
Michelangelo the Sculptor
His most famous 2 sculptures were Pieta and David. He created the Pieta while he was still fairly young- its the only work of art he signed.
Michelangelo the Painter
Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to create his tomb which would include 40 statues but then the Pope interrupted his work to have Michelangelo paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo worked on the ceiling from 1508–1512. As soon as the paintings were revealed to the public, art students started using them as models to draw and sculpt.
Michelangelo painted The Last Judgement fresco on the back wall of the Sistine Chapel from 1534 – 1546
Both the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Last Judgement wall are frescos. Fresco is the hardest type of painting because the painting is done on wet plaster, which allows the pigment to seep into the plaster. This means it must be done quickly with no mistakes!
Michelangelo hadn’t done a lot of fresco painting prior to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but he still didn’t cut corners or slop through the job.
Michelangelo the Poet
Here’s one of Michelangelo’s poems. Not all of his poems were about sculpting, but this one certainly is:
Sculpture, the first of arts, delights a taste
Still strong and sound: each act, each limb, each bone
Are given life and, lo, man’s body is raised,
Breathing alive, in wax or clay or stone.
But oh, if time’s inclement rage should waste,
Or maim, the statue that man builds alone,
Its beauty still remains, and can be traced
Back to the source that claims it as its own.
Art Projects to Celebrate Michelangelo
Paint on wet Plaster of Paris.
We did this project 3 years ago and it was fun! We mixed up the plaster pretty thick, poured it into plastic plates, put a half unfolded paperclip into the plaster and let it dry overnight. In the morning the paster was dry enough to take out of the plates and paint on, but damp enough to still absorb some of the paint.
If you’re going to do this project, have your students paint something easy and loose (not detailed), since there’s no erasing and the paint spreads a bit as it soaks into the plaster.
Create a Clay Bust
I love how clay appeals to certain kids. My older son doesn’t enjoy drawing like my younger son, but boy does he get into clay!! This year, we’re making a clay bust and I created a full lesson plan for you with a video to help show the steps.
Our 4 sons have been doing a little bit of art this week (we’re all together for Christmas!) in between their running, fort building, and video game playing. They did some Diamond Painting, Leatherworking, and Wood burning. (We hope to post a full blog post about wood burning soon!)
Deanna and Julie got to take a glass working class, with Julie’s in-laws, at Sonoran Glass. It was so cool to get to play with molten glass!!! Check out the videos on our Instagram accounts!
Deanna and Julie also got to use the wood burners to make a few ornaments with succulents from the book, In Bloom by Rachel Reinert.
Next, Deanna introduced Mom and Julie to natural fabric dyeing. It was an experiment that stretched out over a week! We hope to keep experimenting and keep posting updates on Instagram for you.
Deanna’s husband, James got to practice his violin and make a bunch of arrows for the kids with Dad. (Julie’s husband had to work most of the time.) Dad also ROCKed the Christmas gift wrapping with some beautiful bows after watching Julie’s video about how to make big bows!