Author: Kathy Izzo, 51st Avenue Annex, Queens

Lesson Preview Through observation and discussion of works of art by Rembrandt and other artists, students will discover the meaning of chiaroscuro by creating paper mosaic designs.


Students will actively engage in the process that contributed to the creation and performance in the visual arts through the productionof a paper mosaic design.

Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of art materials such as magazines, colored paper, glue, and the use of art reproductions of Rembrandt, Seurat, and other artists.

Through individual writings, students will compare and contrast the work of Rembrandt with that of Georges Seurat as a means of understanding the use of chiaroscuro.

Students will explore and contrast the contributions of the Dutch, French, and Italian cultures specifically, how the artist of these eras contributed to and influenced the arts through their beliefs, traditions, literature, and values.

Grades Upper Elementary, Intermediate, High School Levels

Subjects Art, Social Studies, Language Arts, Music, Mathematics

Materials reproductions of works by Rembrandt and Seurat, 12" x 18" black paper, color magazine photos, scissors, glue

WWW Art Institure of Chicago www.artic.edu


1. After a comprehensive study of the artwork of Rembrandt through discussion, literature, and creative activities, the teacher will project on a screen paintings by Rembrandt, Seurat, and other artists. Teacher asks the students to point out the similarities about these works of art. The teacher can then lead them into a discussion that will cause them to think about light and shadow in art works and elicit from them where light and shadow exist.

Questions can include "how does the artist use light on the subject to create mood." This will lead students into a discussion on chiaroscuro. Following this students can describe what is going on in each painting and how techniques vary.

The Impressionist style of painting greatly varies with that of the style of Rembrandt. A discussion on the Pointillist technique in Impressionism can also occur. The teacher will tie in the two schools of painting, based upon how light and shadow is used in each of the works. The Pointillist technique in Impressionism will be a way of leading students into the Mosaic Design project. Students will learn how the juxtaposition of tiny dots of color are similar to the placement of small pieces of glass and tile in mosaic design.

During the course of these discussions, the teacher should insure that students have a basic understanding of the following vocabulary:

Mosaic design, analogous colors, Impressionism, chiaroscuro,

Pointillism, juxtapoistioning

2. After students understand the importance of chiaroscuro in awork of art, they will be introduced to the art of mosaic design. As an introduction to this medium, the history of mosaic design and cultural contribution will be discussed.

For students to better understand principles underlying mosaics, the teacherwill display the impressionistic Pointillist reproduction A Sunday On La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. This will then be contrasted with reproductions of mosaics found in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica. This painting, with its many dots of color, will be used to explain how the juxtapositioning of analogous colors was used as a means for creating three dimensional impressions, through the placement of lights and darks in a work of art.


Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Questions such as:  

Colorful Impressionistic work can be used as a means of launching students into working on their mosaic projects.

  • 3. After discussion and visual study of these different mediums, students will receive black construction paper, size 11" x 14". They will select a realistic photograph from which to work. The photograph should have interesting colors and possess light, medium, and dark areas.

     4. Students will draw the image on the black paper with a pencil. Another whole lesson could consist of drawing from geometric shapes as a means of lessening student concern about their drawing skills.

     5. Using color photos from magazines, students will cut out small boxes of color that correlate with colors in the photograph. They will then glue them to the black paper keeping a thin space of black between boxes of color. The teacher can use the example of how bricks are laid to the surface to demonstrate the technique. Students should be told that other kinds of geometric shapes (triangles, semi-circles, and more) may be cut to fit in curved and pointed spaces to render the work correctly.

     6.In choosing colors, a lesson will be given on the use of analogous colors to create three dimensions in art. The teacher can refer back to Impressionist art to exhibit this principle of color families to create dimension and contrast in their mosaic projects. Throughout the lesson, vocabulary words used in the unit can be discussed.

    Extensions Have students set up a still life at home in a darkened area.

    Using direct projected light on the subject matter, students will be asked to make a pencil drawing on white paper. Using color markers, students will place small dots on the paper to reproduce colors, lights, and shades in the still life. This follow-up project will reinforce the technique of chiaroscuro in mosaic designs, and techniques involved in Pointillist and Impressionist paintings.

    Finally, have students write an essay explaining how they created their works of art incorporating the following terms:

    Assessments After mosaics are complete, the teacher will have a class critique. Each student will express themselves openly about areas in which they feel successful, and areas in needs of improvement. Students will support the reasons for their successes and improvements by use of appropriate vocabulary related to art reviewed throughout the lesson.

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