Wednesday, February 8, 2012

OBJECT #1: Chinese Terracotta statues

    Don’t startle as you round the bend from the woodshop to the laundry room!  Be prepared to catch a glimpse of two figures lurking behind the door.  When I first made these life-size “stand-ups” of the famous Chinese terracotta statues from Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s tomb, and my subconscious wasn’t yet used to having them in the house, I would startle just for a split second every time I caught a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye.  Not a real startle-- just one of those fleeting momentary things that can almost pretend didn’t happen.  But I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself tensing for a split second.  They are now hidden far enough behind the door that they don’t register as human shapes the way they did when I had them standing in the wood shop or in my studio area.   In fact, I’d forget about them altogether if I didn’t have to close the laundry room door once in a while.

    The figures are cut from cheap plywood which I then painted, both front and back, with white paint primer.  Then I used chalk pastels on top of the primer.  I sprayed the finished drawings with fixative.  I always hate to apply the fixative; it ruins the very fine blending and shading.  However, leaving chalk drawings unfixed is rarely an option.

    I made these as props for our homeschool group’s China unit a few years ago.  I also made a one-size-fits-all Qin Shi Huangdi costume for the students to wear as they stood for their picture, next to these two statutes.  I set all these against a solid color wall so that I could then use the Photoshop magic eraser tool to quickly and easily (so I thought) erase the background and replace it with a photograph of the landscape around the burial site (near Xi’an).

    I enjoyed our China unit much more than I had expected.  (Hope the kids enjoyed it as much as I did.) By the end of the unit, China had gone way up on my list of interesting places I might want to visit some day.

    You can see some of the other resources I created for our China unit by going to the free downloads “History/Social Studies” section of my website.

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