Lights, Shadows, and Cupcakes
- Arts in Savannah
- Fine Arts
by Kip Bradley, Education Studio Programs Manager
More than 3,200 fourth grade students from the Savannah Chatham County Public School System visited Telfair Museums between October 2018 and January 2019 to experience the Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism exhibition. Students participated in docent-led tours where they viewed works by master artists such as Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, and Berthe Morisot. Then they got to do some hands-on learning in the Jepson Center’s art studio, creating their very own Impressionist cupcake paintings using some of the same techniques these artists used so many years ago. The combined programs explored art history and color theory to enhance curriculum standards for visual arts, language arts, and science.
Impressionist painters like Monet and Renoir rejected the use of pure white and black, insisting that these colors did not exist in nature. Instead, they keenly observed and recorded the changing effects of light on color in the subjects they painted. To demonstrate this, a cupcake made of stuffing was placed on each table in front of a colored lamp. The cupcakes all appeared the same. Then, the lights were turned off and the lamps were turned on — revealing the effects of the light on both the white cupcake and its shadow.
Visible light contains all color, and when shown through a transparent prism, the color is broken into a rainbow. We see an object as a particular color because that color is reflected by the object while the other colors are absorbed. In art, reflected color is also shown as a change of hue when one color is reflected onto another. For example, in Monet’s Port of Dieppe, Evening, the blue, orange, and yellow of the sky at sunset are reflected in the water.
The color of sunlight changes throughout the day and can change our perception of color in objects and their shadows. The Impressionists noticed, for instance, that warm color light on objects would yield cool color shadows. The images below show not only that objects reflect the color of light but also the phenomenon that the shadows appear to be the opposite color.
Student Artwork Gallery
The students’ artwork will be on view in the Jepson Center’s Morrison Community Gallery from February 22 through March 29, 2019. We encourage students, educators, and members of the Savannah Community to come see these mini-masterpieces!