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Domino Players, by Horace Pippin

Domino Players, by Horace Pippin

Horace Pippin, a self-taught African-American artist, was born in Pennsylvania in 1888. He had difficulty at school, preferring drawing to writing. As a youngster, he won a set of colored pencils in a contest, and started drawing religious images. Although an employer wanted to send him to art school at age 14 after Pippin drew his portrait, he chose to stay to take care of his mother. After a serious injury in the war, he had trouble drawing, but in time, he decided to try his hand at painting. He displayed his paintings in shoemaking shop windows, and two men, seeing his work, decided to have a show for him. He painted scenes from the lives of the people around him, and was known as one of the best primitive artists of his time.

Questions to Ask

What is the first thing that you see? This is the focal point. The focal point is what first draws your eye, something that stands out.

How many people are in this painting? What other things do you see? Is this a painting from our time? How do you know that? What clues does the painting give you? Hint: Clothing, furniture, coal cook stove, no TV or radio.

What story is the painting telling us? Are these ladies wealthy? Why do you know they are not? Hint: Clothing, crack in the wall, no rug on the floor, the furniture is not fancy.

What is dominoes? Hint: Bring in a box of dominoes for the children to examine. Explain how to play with them.

What colors do you see? Why do you think the artist used these colors? Do the colors the painter used affect what you feel when you look at the painting?

Activities for the Classroom

An additional kid friendly resource at the AHML is "Horace Pippin" by Mike Venezia. "I tell my heart : the art of Horace Pippin" by Judith Stein et al, provides indepth information to volunteers about the artist.

Let each student draw the details of their family room in pencil, or give each student a black and white coloring page of a room in the house, ideally the family room. Have them use reds and oranges to highlight important areas.

To illustrate the effect of color, let each child fold a piece of paper in two. Use grays and neutrals to draw and color a 'sad' picture on the one side, then use brights to draw a 'happy' picture on the other side. An easy way to emphasize feeling is to use weather too, a sunny day versus a cloudy or rainy day.

Let the children be guided by the painting, and share with the classroom what they like to do on a cold gloomy day outside. Make sure they stay on topic though! If there is time, let them draw what they like to do on such a day.

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