Monthly Archives: May 2022

Devotion Based on 2 Artworks by Mary Cassatt

In Mary Cassatt’s painting, A Young Mother Sewing, a little girl is leaning on her mother’s lap. Do you think her mother is working on a dress for her? We can imagine though, that she’d really like her mother to stop and come play.

Have you ever had to wait for an adult to finish something before helping you or playing a game? It’s hard to be patient at those times.

A second artwork by Mary Cassatt, called The Fitting, reminds me of a time like that for me.

The Fitting by Mary Cassatt, The Brooklyn Museum, public domain

When I was young one of the hardest times for me to be patient was when my mother hemmed my dresses. She began by measuring up from the floor with a wooden yardstick. I had to stand straight, with no drooping to the right or left as she placed pins at the right place. As she went round and round, checking, re-pinning, and checking again, Soon I’d start feeling wiggly, because I wanted to go play.

Have you ever had to be fitted for or shopped for clothes for a special event and thought the adults took too long? Did you feel wiggly and want to play?

Now I’m grown up, I know my mother was being careful because she loved me and wanted me to look my best. And when I look at The Fitting, I’m reminded of these verses from Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1-5 NIV)

We are God’s children, and He uses the Bible as His yardstick to show us how to become more like Him, our loving heavenly Father.

Can you think of a time when the Bible helped you see a change you needed to make in how you treated friends or family?

Pinning is only part of the hemming process. In A Young Mother Sewing we see that hemming is done by hand and takes time and skill. It’s important not to get the stitches so tight they cause the cloth to pucker or so loose they fall out.

A Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt,1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, public domain

In the painting, I can imagine the mother laying her hand on her daughter’s head, encouraging her to be patient so the dress will turn out beautiful.

God has laid His hand upon us and encourages us to learn from Him. He knows us and doesn’t push us so hard that we get frustrated, but He also loves us enough to keep helping us make our lives more beautiful to glorify Him in the world.

Think of one lesson from your Bible that you can put into practice this week. Do you need to use kinder words? Do you need to be less impatient and wiggly when you have to wait for Mom or Dad to come play?

Let’s pray: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for knowing and loving me. You are always with me. Please help me become more like Jesus. In His name, amen.

Before You Go

Go here to learn about the painting, A Young Mother Sewing and how to enjoy it with your children. Go here if you’d like directions for a children’s art project based on Mary Cassatt’s paintings.

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit

And be sure to visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids, and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages.

Molly and I hope you enjoyed this devotion based on art by Mary Cassatt. If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you’ll soon receive our May newsletter with more fun things to do.

in this photo Molly is learning to sit inside a hula hoop and wait patiently for me to say she can get up.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Look at Mary Cassatt’s Painting of A Young Mother Sewing

Although Mother’s Day is over, Molly and I hope you’ll join us this month as we look at one of Mary Cassatt’s beautiful and timeless paintings of mothers and children engaged in everyday activities.

In this post you’ll:

  • Find helpful vocabulary
  • Learn a little about Mary Cassatt and her paintings of mothers and children
  • Discover activities to help you and your children explore and enjoy her paintings
  • See a cute photo of Molly, the Artsy Corgi

Helpful Vocabulary

These words, shown in bold green the first time, will help you and your children talk more easily about different parts of the painting.

  • Impressionists: a group of mostly French artists, who in the late 1800s, began painting outside so they could catch the way colors changed in different lights. They worked quickly with dabs and dashes, (creating an impression of their subject) so their paintings looked strange and unfinished to viewers. The Impressionists held their own annual exhibits in Paris. The style also spread to other countries.
  • Genre art:  art showing everyday events and people
  • Composition: the way an artist arranges all the parts to create a painting
  • The Renaissance: the rebirth or revival of classical (Greek and Roman) influences in art and literature, refers especially to the 14th -16th centuries in Italy when such greats as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael worked.

The Artist

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) who grew up in Philadelphia, always wanted to become an artist. Despite her father’s objections, she entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts when she was 15. But women had separate classes from men, which frustrated Mary, and there were few museums in which to study great art. So, like many American artists, Mary traveled to Europe to study.

Even in Paris, Mary couldn’t attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, (France’s most prestigious art school), but she could study privately with Ecole masters and copy masterpieces at the Louvre. Many artists studied in this way.

Mary joined the French Impressionists just 5 years after their first exhibition in 1874. The only American and one of only three women, Mary continued exhibiting with the Impressionists until 1886

The men in the Impressionist group could go to cafes and travel around Paris and the surrounding countryside to find subjects to paint. Mary Cassatt and the other women couldn’t go to these places unless accompanied by a man. So they painted the domestic life of women and children, using their family members as models. Mary Cassatt is loved today for her beautiful paintings, pastels, and prints of mothers and children. In her Genre art we see the love between mothers and children in ordinary daily moments.

Though Cassatt lived the rest of her life in France, she never forgot the need for art in American museums. She helped Americans buy artworks to eventually go into these. Her own works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, and many other big and small museums.

The Painting

A Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt,1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, public domain

Let’s look at a painting called A Young Mother Sewing. Cassatt has captured a quiet moment in time—the mother is intent on her sewing, while the child is staring at the viewer.

Though it is a genre painting, Cassatt has used a Composition in which the mother and child form a triangular shape, drawing our eyes up to the mother’s face. That triangle, together with the background horizontal and vertical lines, makes a stable, balanced composition.

This kind of composition was very common with portraits of the Madonna and Child in The Renaissance. So, though the woman is just an ordinary mom doing some sewing, Cassatt has given her great dignity and importance.  To compare, here’s a Madonna and Child painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci,1499-1508, National Gallery, London, public domain

While using classical composition, Cassatt also employs impressionistic techniques:

  • She fills the painting with light. Where the sun hits, we see yellow highlights, and instead of black for shadows on the child’s dress, we see light blues and greens.
  • She dissolves the outlines of faces, hands, and fabrics, which is characteristic of much Impressionist art. If we look closely at the vase on the table, we see the pattern is barely indicated, and the flowers are just orange blobs.
  • Instead of a detailed landscape behind the woman, which we would see in a Renaissance portrait, we see just patches of paint to indicate lawn and trees receding into a shadowy blue distance. Compare that to the detailed background in the Mona Lisa, also by da Vinci.

    Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-1516, Louvre, Paris, public domain

    Activities to Help You and Your Children further Explore A Young Mother Sewing

Before doing any other activities, ask your children to tell what’s going on in the painting and what tells them that. Enhance their observational and verbal skills by rephrasing words and ideas. According to your children’s ages, work in a little of the new vocabulary, but keep it short and simple.

  1. Ask what colors and patterns they see. Mention how the striped pattern on the mother’s dress helps show their close relationship.
  2. Ask children in what ways this painting resembles a modern photograph.
  3. What do they think the little girl is thinking as she looks at the viewer?
  4. Is she asking her mother a question or maybe asking her mother to come and play?
  5. Ask children if they’ve ever come to you or another adult to ask a question or to come and play? What happened? How should we behave at such times?
  6. What do they think will happen next?
  7. Other things you can do is to have children find all the blues, all the greens, and so on.

Before You Go

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit

Visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages.

Cute picture of Molly. In one of our everyday moments we’re reading a special book by Nancy Sanders about animal babies and their mommies. Here’s a link to my post interviewing Nancy about her adorable board book, Bedtime with Mommy.

Molly and I hope you enjoy learning about this special painting of a mother and child and will join us next week for a devotion based on another of Mary Cassatt’s artworks, The Fitting.

Children’s Art Activity for Mother’s Day

This month Molly and I are changing things up a bit, so you can make a cute card for Mother’s Day. In the next posts we’ll look at some beautiful paintings about mothers by Mary Cassatt, and next a devotion based on those paintings.

In this post you’ll find:

  • Supply list
  • Vocabulary
  • Step-by-step directions
  • 2 Helpful hints
  • Variations and/or adaptations for different ages
  • An art element and design principle to learn about
  • 3 ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development
  • Clean-up tips
  • Cute Molly Photo

Let’s get started!

Supplies:

  • card stock or construction paper
  • paint and brushes, markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • scissors, pencils, yarn or string, and glue
  • teabags

Vocabulary:

stencil: a paper or other material with shapes or designs cut out so paint, etc. may be applied through the cutout shape onto an underlying surface

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. Fold paper in half and draw a cup-shape, making sure one side is against the fold
  2. While still folded, cut cup out
  3. Cut oval shape out of white or contrasting color and glue in place for cup opening
  4. Draw and color designs on front of cup. I made stencils for the tulips
  5. Have an adult use an X-Acto knife to make a small cut on the inner rim of the cup
  6. Thread yarn or string through the cut and attach a heart or other shape (like a teabag string and tag hanging out of a cup)
  7. On the inside left of the card glue a piece of paper over the end of the yarn. Decorate and write your Mother’s Day message on this paper
  8. On the other side of the opened card, use a glue gun, tape, or staples to attach a teabag

2 Helpful Hints:

  • When you’re making stencils, it’s helpful to fold the paper so the design is the same on both sides
  • When using the X-Acto knife, open up the card and work on a cutting board

Variations and/or adaptations for different ages:

  • Use a real teabag string and tag instead of yarn
  • Make a pocket for the teabag
  • This card can be used for many occasions, such as birthdays. Just change designs and inner message.

Children may need help drawing and cutting out the cup and finishing it with a teabag and teabag tag, but there’s much they can do:

  •    Choose the color of the card, decorate it, and choose the flavor of tea to include
  •    Write the message
  •    Pray for the person
  •    Stick stamp and return address on envelope and put in letter box

An art element and design principle to learn about

  • Color—children will choose colors to make a pleasing design
  • Shape—learning to notice and work with shapes is an important skill that helps children in many ways, such as letter recognition and math skills.

3 Ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development

  1. Using crayons and scissors, and other art tools helps children develop fine motor skills.
  2. When children make choices in creating art, it enhances problem-solving skills.
  3. Making art for someone else encourages children to think of and care for others

Clean up Hints:

  • Put a plastic table cloth or large paper under your work
  • Wax paper under paper as you spread glue, keeps things from sticking in the wrong places
  • Have paper towels handy
  • Keep a wastebasket handy
  • After washing and rinsing brushes, reshape bristles if needed, and lay them flat on paper towels to dry. Store with bristles up in a jar.

Cute Molly Photo

Molly loves when daffodils and tulips begin to pop up in the spring!

Molly hopes you enjoy making this Mother’s Day card! In our next post we’ll show you two of Mary Cassatt’s beautiful paintings of mothers and children and give you ways to enjoy these with your children.

 

Before You Go

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit

Sign up now and don’t miss May’s newsletter, which will have lots of books and activities to help you and your kiddos enjoy God’s wonderful creation!

You may also visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages, coloring pages for kids, and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages.