Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to All Things Bright and Beautiful. If you are new to this site, I would recommend that you read my very first entry - which is an introduction and welcome to this blog. You can view it here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

John James Audubon - Pileated Woodpeckers, Franz Joseph Haydn - The Creation , and Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander - There is a Green Hill

John James Audubon's painting of the Pileated Woodpeckers is typical of his work as it shows the birds in different poses and with clues to their diet and habitat as well as their personalities.  It is also composed in a pleasing arrangement for an artistic painting.

I'd like to introduce a new composer today.  Franz Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer during the Classical Period.  He is often called the "Father of the Symphony".  One of my favorites works by Haydn is his oratorio "The Creation".  It is long but in my opinion worth listening to the whole thing.  We have taken a week or two and listened to some each day. Much of this is taken directly from scripture and some comes from John Milton's "Paradise Lost". The music itself beautifully parallels the words and describes the creation with sound.  From the very beginning sounds, starting with chaos until God says "Let there be light," you can almost hear the light burst forth.  When we listened I photocopied an enlarged copy of the words from the booklet in the CD for my children so they could follow along.  I tried unsuccessfully to find the words online. The Following link is an overview of this oratorio.  It includes detailed descriptions of this oratorio  If you don't plan to listen to the whole thing I would recommend Part 3 as a sample.  It is from Day 3 of Creation or you might enjoy Part 7 which has lots of animals.  This video intersperses the musicians with beautiful and fitting photography.  You can listen to the whole oratorio in about 10 minutes a day for twelve days.  I will be featuring this oratorio for two weeks to give time to listen to the whole thing.

Part 1
Part 2  I am so sorry to any of you who have already viewed this - I don't know how I missed previewing this section, but as I watched with my children, I saw there are two places with nude artwork that you may want to minimize the screen for and just listen, from 04:28-05:15 and 06:33-06:48.  
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8 (Part 8 does include lots of nude artwork depicting Adam and Eve from about 00:32-04:15. You may want to minimize the screen and just listen.  Also footage of a Lion attacking a Wildebeast which might be too graphic for young or sensitive children - you could minimize when the lions start stalking at about 07:45 and continue to listen until this part is past- about 08:12).
Part 9
Part 10  (01:55-02:12 includes an piece of artwork of a person without clothes)
Part 11 (Part 11 from minute 06:52-08:05 focuses on a drawing of Adam and Eve without clothes - you could minimize for that minute....)
Part 12

The following are short biographical sketches of Franz Joseph Haydn's life:
The following is a link to an article that discusses the difficulties that came because this work which was originally done in German has been translated into English by someone who didn't know English very well.

Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander's hymn "There is a Green Hill" follows:

There Is A Green Hill

THERE is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffer’d there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven,
Sav’d by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven, and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he lov’d,
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.

A choir singing this hymn can be found on the following link:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

John James Audubon - Swan, Sergei Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 2, Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander - Jesus Calls Us O'er the Tumult

John James Audubon's swan below may be a good painting to have your children try their hand at copying.  Drawing, like learning to read, write or ride a bike, takes much practice.  Our first attempts at new skills are usually not impressive.  It is through repeated attempts that we become proficient and skillful. Some people say they cannot draw but I think it would be more accurate to say that they haven't yet learned to draw. Artists are people who have learned to really see what we all look at and to accurately record this seeing on paper.  Praise your children's first attempts and give them plenty of opportunities for practice.  As your children advance in their skills they may be ready for gentle advice.  Sometimes it helps to encourage beginners to study the details carefully, "see the neck is quite long, and curves all the way around like a tight 's'".  When you draw a thing you have to look carefully at the original. Learning to see and remember the details is what picture study is all about.

Other than Peter and the wolf, music by Sergei Prokofiev is new to me but I thought we should check out one more of his works before we move on to a new composer so here is a piano concerto.  It is long - a half hour and not exactly relaxing music, so you may want to just listen to part or break it up.  Somtimes we will listen to music like this while we draw or do handwork.

Another beautiful hymn by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander 

Jesus Calls Us

Jesus calls us; o'er the tumult
of our life's wild, restless sea,
day by day his clear voice soundeth,
saying, 'Christian, follow me;'

as, of old, Saint Andrew heard it
by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and toil and kindred,
leaving all for his dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world's golden store;
from each idol that would keep us,
saying, 'Christian, love me more.'

In our joys and in our sorrows,
days of toil and hours of ease,
still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
'Christian, love me more than these.'

Jesus calls us! By thy mercies,
Savior, may we hear thy call,
give our hearts to thine obedience,
serve and love thee best of all.

A link to a nice organ rendition of the tune I'm familiar with singing this hymn to follows:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

John James Audubon - Snowy Egret, Sergei Prokofiev -From Romeo and Juliet, Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander - All Things Bright and Beautiful

I'd like to introduce a new artist this week.  John James Audubon was an American Wildlife painter.  He was fascinated with America's wildlife and set out to discover and paint all the birds of North America.  His book  The Birds of North America is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed and is still popular today.  You will likely be able to find it at your local library or at least get your librarian to order it for you.  We live in a small town and our library has it as does another library in a small town near where we lived before.  We will only be able to cover a sampling of Audubon's wonderful paintings so I recommend trying to get a copy.  My children have enjoyed browsing through the paintings - learning about birds as they go. Some years ago when we studied Audubon for the first time I asked each of my children to choose two of their favorite paintings from    The Birds of North America.  I then had colored prints (photocopies) made and we all enjoyed studying the prints as well as trying our hand at copying our favorites.  I was surprised that even some of the younger children did quite well at copying these.  Audubon also painted mammals and there are books that include these as well.  You may enjoy reading a biography of Audubon's life while you study his works.  One children's book we've read about his life is  The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies.  There are probably many different biographies of Audubon and you can see what is available at your local library.  The following are biographical sketches of his life online:

Today's painting is of a Snowy Heron or White Egret.  There are many details to take note of including the background.

Snowy Heron or White Egret by John James Audubon

Our music today is another orchestral piece by Sergei Prokofiev.  It is a fairly dramatic piece from a longer work called Romeo and Juliet performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.  One of the things I liked about this particular video is that it shows the various instruments being played as they are featured.  I also noticed that the conductor has very expressive hands as he directs the music.

Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander wrote many poems and hymns one which inspired the title of this blog, "All Things Bright and Beautiful.  Following is a nice biographical sketch.

Maker of Heaven and Earth (All Things Bright and Beautiful)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;--

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Joseph Farquharson - The Hour of Prayer, Sergei Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf, Eugene Field - The Sugar Plum Tree

This is our final painting in this series by Joseph Farquaharson.  It is quite different than the colorful and peaceful sheep paintings that we first studied.  To me it isn't as "beautiful" but it definitely shows his skill as an artist.  The architecture and complex tiles all done in perspective are realistic and believable.  Notice his use of light and shadow.  We will move on to a new artist next week.

One piece of music our family has enjoyed through the years is Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev.  I hope you enjoy this musical story, too.   
The following link is to Phil Tugla-Through the Curriculum and has some wonderful helps and ideas for studying this piece of music including the text of the story and separate playings of the individual themes showing pictures of the instruments used as well as a suggested writing activity.

This link is to the Wikipedia article for Peter and the Wolf:

And the link to the Wikipedia article on Sergei Prokofiev:

You might also enjoy this excerpt with video of a duck and her babies

This week another Eugene Field poem:

The Sugar-Plum Tree

Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.
When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below---
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:
You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground---
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!
There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.