michelangelo’s paint drippings

hooray for my little michelangelos! in tuesday’s class we revisited our old Italian friend and learned a few new and exciting tidbits! a few days before class, I finished reading Ross King’s amazing book Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, which gave me so many new bits of information to share with my class! now, we already knew that the notion of Michelangelo lying on his back to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a myth.  Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo actually he stood on a scaffold, with his head thrust back, painting the surface above him. And we already knew that Pope Julius, who commissioned the Chapel’s painting, wasn’t exactly the nicest man on the face of the planet. But did you know that Michelangelo’s full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni? Or that he wrote more than 300 poems during his lifetime? Oooo..here’s another one…apparently, Michelangelo installed a large sheet of canvas below the scaffold to not only catch any paint drippings from falling on the church-goers below, but to hide the ceiling from any curious onlookers!

Not only do I get totally excited about information like this, but so do my students! I love it when they not only retain the facts, but get that little glint in their eye of excitement!

Today we looked at a variety of different works by Michelangelo, including his famous David sculpture and different panels from the Sistine Chapel. We talked about the difference between painting and painting “al fresco” and discussed the historical relevance of the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s role in its creation. We looked closely at the “Creation” panel and each child was tasked with drawing their own version of the Creation with, instead of God and Adam, two people who are important to them.  I love what the children came up with…

We had two gorgeous hands…

We had Mario and Luigi…

And we had a bevy of angels…

Then the children were told to get under the tables where canvases were adhered to the underside. They experienced firsthand how Michelangelo had to paint the Sistine ceiling, while I played the part of the “Mean Pope” yelling at them to hurry up and not drip paint on my  beautiful floor…All in all, it was an artistic, giggle-filled time…

If you’re so inspired, there are some great children’s books about Michelangelo that are worth finding at the local library: Michelangelo by Diane Stanley, Who Can Open Michelangelo’s Seven Seals by Thomas Brezina and a fun Italian alphabet book called C is for Ciao by Elissa Grodin.

Also, The Vatican’s web site offers a gorgeous virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel…you can zoom in on particular paintings and see the chapel in 360 degrees…it’s stunning and worth a peek:



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