Sunday, March 22, 2009

From Narration to (a Beginner's) Essay

Below I am posting an essay Triss wrote on prominent painters of the Renaissance.

We have been working on thesis statements lately, and as I watched her art narrations come through in the last couple of weeks, I realized I have been helping her all wrong. I have been suggesting she think of a thesis statement and then write about it, but that appears to be backwards. Writing on a subject first-- freewriting, or narrating-- and then watching a theme develop seems to be much more natural. So I suggested she combine two written narrations that had developed on one theme, pulling the thesis from their unity. I am posting the two narrations first to show what they originally looked like, and at the end I will post the final draft of the essay.

Here are the narrations on their own (her instructions were to summarize the pages she read:

1) Leonardo Da Vinci(this is a narration I already posted, so click on the link to read).

2) Michelango was a genius in sculpture, architecture, poetry and painting. He regarded man as something almost Godlike and so for him a painter of men was almost in competition with God for creating things. Michelangelo had a violent personality that was part hope and part despair. His figures are firm and full of light and darkness.

Raphael, on the other hand, was less complicated. His figures are more THERE and less allegorical. His drama is more action and less deep, profound thoughts. His pictures were alive and real, instead of superhuman people reflecting on things. He was influenced a little by Leonardo's paintings.

Here is the final draft of her essay.

Three Painters of the Renaissance

Everyone knows about the Mona Lisa, the roof of the Sistine Chapel, and other great works of the Renaissance period. All sorts of images were drawn, by all sorts of painters, in all sorts of places. Three brilliant painters drew people who all look different. Leonardo da Vinci drew them scientifically, Michelangelo drew them religiously, and Raphael drew them authentically. These three artists saw people in very different ways.

Leonardo da Vinci was an amazing man. Besides being a painter, he was an inventor, psychologist, scientist and doctor, just to name a few of his varied interests and skills. These helped with his wonderful pictures-- he looked at people as part of science and observed them carefully. For Leonardo da Vinci, a person was just like an animal or flower: a lot of lines, curves and shading to be examined and precisely copied.

Michelangelo was just as much of a genius as Leonardo, but he regarded people in a different light. Humankind was a race set apart, man a creature almost Godlike, and he who painted them was almost competing with the Creator himself. Michelangelo's figures are firm and full of light or darkness, reflecting his violent personality's strange turns from hope to despair.

Raphael was more lighthearted in his pictures. His figures were like those he would have seen around him. Not many of his paintings are allegorical, but they look real. His drama does not come from symbolic objects or deep expressions on faces, but from action jumping out at you-- almost like a photograph of someone in mid-movement.

There were many great painters and artists in the Renaissance, each with his own work of art and style of working. Everyone sees people in a different way, and these three artists-- Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael-- had their own way of viewing people which they incorporated into their art.

I like the essay a lot. I like the ideas she pulled from her reading-- the idea that Michelangelo drew human beings religiously-- he seems to have worshipped the human form. I like the idea of Leonardo as the scientist who observed and copied exactly, and even dealt a bit in psychology. I like the contrast of Raphael as lighthearted and uncomplicated in his renderings of people.

These ideas came from the book she read, and her thesis is really a statement of the unity of the High Renaissance portion of the book.

I notice that some of the sparkle that I enjoy so much in her written narrations fell out in the process of essay-writing, though. You can almost see her mental gyrations as she attempts to fit her writing into the mold of the five-paragraph essay.

Now I am thinking that I will sometimes ask her for the unity of what she reads-- ie., read the section, state the unity right off, and then give reasons why you think that idea is the unity. Or maybe write a summary, and at the end state the unity, since sometimes it is difficult to see it until you have articulated your thoughts a bit. What do you all think?

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