The Great Artist

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One fine day God told Moses to build a tabernacle—a house for God. God said, “Just build any old thing, Moses. I don’t care how it looks. It’s OK if it’s ugly. And don’t spend a lot on the decorations—that’s just a waste of money.”

Wait a minute . . . that’s all wrong! Here’s what really happened. God asked Moses to make a VERY beautiful tent-like building. God told Moses to use cloth woven in beautiful colors and patterns, red leather, wood, bronze, silver, and lots and LOTS of gold. God asked for a lampstand made of gold in the shape of flowering almond branches. He asked for an ark made of wood with gold over it, and a golden table too. Have you ever seen a tent like that?

But God didn’t ask for this stuff because he thought it would be cool to have expensive things in his house. God gave Moses these instructions     because God is the Great Artist. God loves beauty. Beautiful things praise God and remind us of God’s glory.

God’s glory shows up in snapdragons, in starfish, in sunsets . . . and in YOU. Each one of us is a work of art. OK, maybe you think God gave you too many freckles, or funny toes, or ears that stick out too far. But the Great Artist made you in his own image, and when God looks at you, God says, “Wow, that kid I made is a MASTERPIECE!”

The Real YOU

The real you is so much more than what you look like on the outside. Try this fun way to make a self-portrait that shows what you’re all about.

Get a big piece of paper or posterboard for the background. Then make a picture of yourself by gluing on torn pieces of paper and other stuff you find around the house.

Use stuff that says something about you . . . a movie ticket from your favorite film could be your arm, a bottle cap from your favorite soft drink could be your nose. A photograph of your friend could be the picture on the front of your T-shirt—you get the idea.

The more details you add, the more fun your portrait will look, and the more it will tell about the REAL you!

Scrambled Art

Match these famous artists to their paintings.

(Can you do it without clues?)

        Vincent Van Gogh        

Clue: Zeez flowers make me sooo sad!

        Leonardo DaVinci

Clue: My stomach is growling!

        Johannes Vermeer

Clue: “I’m making a list, checkin’ it twice . . .”

        Claude Monet

Clue: Welcome to my pad.

        Michaelangelo

Clue: A touching scene

        Rembrandt

Clue: Anybody got some aspirin?

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Every artist has his or her own style, so no two people’s artwork looks exactly alike. Check out these three paintings by very talented artists. What’s the same about how these three artists paint people? What’s different? What do the artists’ different styles tell you about the people in their paintings? How do you think the person in the painting was feeling? What was he or she thinking?

Mary CassattLived from: 1844-1926Born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

Interesting stuff: Mary was one of the great female painters of all time. She lived in France for most of her life. She liked to paint mothers taking care of their children and other simple subjects.

Toyokuni UtagawaLived from: 1769-1825Born in Edo, Japan

Interesting stuff: Toyokuni was the son of a puppet maker. He became famous by painting portraits of Japanese actors.

William H. JohnsonLived from: 1901-1970Born in Florence, South Carolina

Interesting stuff: When he was a boy, William copied pictures from the comics. As an adult, he used simple shapes and bright colors to help people focus on the souls—not the bodies—of the people in his paintings.

Read More About It

Chasing Vermeerby Blue BalliettIf you like mysteries, check out this chapter book. A masterpiece by the famous artist Johannes Vermeer has been stolen on the way to a museum in Chicago. Sixth-graders Petra and Calder decide to get it back. The thief has left clues, but putting them together takes every ounce of brains Petra and Calder have. If they succeed in solving the mystery, the world gets a treasure back. But if they fail, the painting might be destroyed forever!

Just Like Me:

Stories and Self-Portraits by Fourteen ArtistsEdited by Harriet Rohmer

This book shows the way 14 artists paint themselves. If you’re interested in creating a serious self-portrait, take a look at this book for some creative ideas.

About the Author

Sandy Swartzentruber serves as the resource coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries and is a member of Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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