Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Giotto di Bondone, 1267-1337

Today we started our study of Giotto di Bondone. Detail of Last Judgement; Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy.
I like to start our picture study by talking a little about the artist, showing them a picture of the artist, if possible. This picture is thought to be Giotto's self-portrait.
I like to use self-portraits, if they are available, for they reveal some of what they felt about themselves.
The story most told about Giotto takes place when he was a boy, tending his father's sheep. To pass the time he would scratch on flat rocks with a sharp stone pastoral pictures. One day Cimabue (remember him from last week) was traveling through the area and saw Giotto's scratch-sketches and was so impressed with them that he offered Giotto an apprenticeship at his workshop. We thought about Giotto scratching pictures of the sheep on the flat rocks, and I offered to them a art project related to this called Sgraffito. I gave them each a small rectangle of cardstock and asked them to fill it with thick crayon marks.
It can be a solid color or a mix of colors, but it works best if there is no paper left showing through.

Now, just to add a little bit of science into it, I showed them first how just plain paint will be repelled by the wax. They remembered this happening with the paint on aluminum foil as well when we did the Illuminated Manuscript Covers.
Then I added dish soap to the paint, and the paint then went on over the wax.
(The bumps in this picture are from the soap being stirred in a little too vigorously by my son.) I told them that we would talk about why this was in future weeks when we get to why things do or do not mix in chemistry. They were asked to cover their papers entirely with black paint. Once they were dry, I gave them disposable chopsticks to draw by scratching off the paint to reveal the colored wax underneath, much like Giotto scratched into the rock to make his sketches.
Scratch art paper can be bought commercially (so you do not have to do the first part of this project.) You can just scratch in your drawing.

Alex's finished project.
Quentin's finished work.
Later on this week I will help them individually to add Giotto to their timelines (birth and death dates) and locate Florence, Italy on a map and next week we will start our study of Giotto's works.
Although the boys enjoyed this activity, I don't want to spend too much time on Giotto himself because this is not artist study, but rather picture study. The pictures should stand by themselves without too much background of the artist for it is the appreciation of the beauty contained in the artwork itself that we are cultivating.

More ideas of how to study Giotto at The Art Fairy.


  1. That's cool!-Jess

  2. someday we'll do scratch art. And someday we'll add in studying art. Sigh, so many things to teach.


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