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Chiaroscuro Painting

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See more activities in: Middle School, Painting & Drawing

Your high school student can create a unique painting in the style of Italian masters such as Rembrandt and da Vinci. He’ll learn more about this unique style of painting in art history. Chiaroscuro paintings often have strong contrasts of light and dark within the image and were popularized during the Renaissance. Often artists would use candles to illuminate their subject matter for the paintings as well as include the candle in the image!

What You Need:

  • Candlestick and candle
  • Items for a still life
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes

What You Do:

  1. Invite your high school student to learn more about the art of chiaroscuro painting by doing some research at the local library or on the Internet.
  2. Offer your child a piece of paper and a pencil so he can take notes on chiaroscuro painting and painters. Encourage him to make a list of his favorite artists and paintings that he discovers.
  3. Chiaroscuro paintings are often focused on a portrait or action, but your child can create a dramatic still life instead. Encourage your child to gather items and arrange them in an intriguing way. He can also find a candlestick as well as a candle to use while painting.
  4. Encourage your child to create a sketch before beginning to paint. Remind him to think about areas of light and dark within the painting. To create a true chiaroscuro painting, your child can work in a room that can be darkened so that the candle really is the only illumination of his still life!
  5. Now he can begin painting, working slowly and thinking about color gradations. He can use an extra sheet of scrap paper as a palette for mixing colors to create shades and hues.
  6. Once his chiaroscuro painting is finished, place the painting in a gilded frame for others to see, just like an Italian Renaissance master!
Sarah Lipoff has a K-12 Art Education degree and enjoys working with kids of all ages.

Updated on Mar 27, 2012
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