Looking Back – Ancient Egypt Part Four: Art

ancient egypt unit study

Our core books for learning about Egyptian art were:

Ribbet collageegypt artFirstly, we explored the reliefs, as this was something the children were already familiar with.  We looked at examples of sunken reliefs and raised reliefs, wrote about them and the children tried their hand at replicating some:

C's sunken relief in the form of a scarab beetle.  We used a stencil as a guide
C’s sunken relief in the form of a scarab beetle. We used a stencil as a guide
C's example of a raised relief.
C’s raised relief.

As writing was so much part of the Egyptian art work, with inscriptions accompanying most forms of art, the children made their own clay cartouche using pictograms for their names:

L's cartouche
L’s cartouche

The children learnt about the clay models that were used by children to play with, and which were also made to keep the dead company in their journey to the after life:

T's bird
T’s bird
T's scarab beetle
T’s scarab beetle

We also had a bit of fun sculpting a bar of soap, which the children found MUCH harder, given bits kept falling off!

The guys having lots of fun!
The guys having lots of fun!
And the end results!!
And the end results!!

Then we got down to the real business learning about the paintings of the ancient Egyptians.  We couldn’t study an artist as we are able to do now we are studying the middle ages, simply because paintings weren’t ascribed to one particular artist.  They were, instead, painted by a team of artisans.  I did an interesting experiment with the children.  I filled a meat tray with plaster and let it dry.  The next morning each child was given a tray and told to paint something.  There were no rules, just to paint anything they chose, with whatever colours they wanted.  These were the results.  You can just make out the paintings if you look really, really closely:

Painting happily away
Painting happily away
The paintings were quite small and difficult to make out.
The paintings were quite small and difficult to make out.

I then taught them all about the rules of ancient Egyptian art.  They were required to jot these all down, and using them, to carefully plan and execute the drawing and painting of a person onto some papyrus I had left over from my visit to Egypt:

Notepages about reliefs and painting
Note pages about reliefs and painting
Rules and diagrams of frontalism
Rules and diagrams of frontalism
And the lovely results
And the lovely results.  I think they all must have chosen to copy the one from the example above!

C, who was doing her presentation on Egyptian art did an extra painting for her display using the rules.  This is a particularly good example because you can see the grid under the painting.  It is done with the same materials as I gave the children in the first place for their plaster paintings but the results are very different:

C's painting, using up all the space, with a grid in the back ground and using all the bright colours costomary at that time
C’s painting, using up all the space, with a grid in the back ground and using all the bright colours customary at that time

This study lit a fire in the children that did not go out all summer.  Every single day over the summer, they would dress up in long, artisan robes (I wanted to keep their white egyptian dress up white!) and trek off into the garden and spend hours grinding stone into powder, adding water, eggs and anything else they could think of and painted away to their heart’s content.  I have such wonderful memories of that summer and am so grateful I captured some of it on camera:

Grinding the stones to powder
Grinding the stones to powder
The powders mixed into paints and ready to be used
The powders mixed into paints and ready to be used
L the egyptian artisan, painting away
L the egyptian artisan, painting away
And C, sharing with her little sister
And C, sharing with her little sister

Next week, I’ll be covering the presentaion, with some pictures from our trip to the British Museum.

15 comments

  1. I pinned this post too. You are totally planning our Egyptian studies unit. It looks like you covered several different Egyptian art forms and I like they way you put them all together into one post and week or two of activities. Thank you, and thanks for linking up with Hobbies and Handicrafts.

  2. Another amazing study – WOW! You are my favorite homeschooling older kiddos blog!! Thanks for sharing and linking up to TGIF =-)

    Have a great week!
    Beth

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