Edward Gorey – creepy stories and cross-hatching

29 Oct

With the spooky Halloween holiday coming up we are going to look at the art and stories of a man named Edward Gorey.
American artist born in Chicago in 1925 and died in 2000 at his home on Cape Cod, MA.Edward_Gorey_-_2a
Gorey wrote and illustrated more than 100 books (including some pop-ups, some very, very tiny…) all with signature drawing style of an often dark image made with the cross hatching technique.

Each of his illustrations is made with many, many pen & ink lines – he didn’t paint with a brush or fill in areas completely he only used a pen and created his art entirely out of tiny lines… a process that we will discuss more in a moment. The stories he wrote are quite different than books you might read- often a little weird or creepy or unusual – which is why we are learning about him at Halloween! But they were never super scary. In fact there are more likely to be kind of silly! He had a very dark sense of humor.

(read Doubtful Guest) – A mysterious, outdoor creature, dressed in sneakers and a scarf, appears on a winter night at a family’s Victorian home and never leaves again. End of story.

ASK: How is this book different than other stories you’ve read?

Some artists look at a person or object to draw it but Gorey drew from his imagination and that’s why his images are often so unusual – he wasn’t limited by drawing what his eyes saw… he drew whatever his mind could imagine! Not all his stories rhyme – some full of nonsense words and seem confusing to read – some books no words at all  – West Wing is one of those stories … story is all in reader/viewer’s mind and is different from person to person

images{flip thru West Wing}

We will make a book like west wing
– each student drawing a page
– Gorey’s book referred to a wing of a large house – setting & title of our book “The Suspicious School”

DEFINE: Value – the lightness or darkness of color
explain cross-hatch/demonstrate

bta_crosshatch_plane1 bta_crosshatch_plane2 bta_crosshatch_skull

Think of a scene that will leave people wondering what happened and use their imaginations to fill in the story.
Maybe a room with something curious in it… Close your eyes and use your imagination to invent a place to draw

– an open door/window
– something someone left in an empty room
– footprints or tracks in mud or snow
– something that looks out of place where it sits
– a tree or a field with something unexpected sitting in it
– open book on a table/desk
– a bicycle left someplace

** write on the back one sentence about the scene and YOUR NAME

– lightly sketch out scene in pencil before filling in with pen cross hatching
– remember to use criss crossing lines to make the values in your image
– we are NOT scribbling
– some lines will be short, some will be long
– further apart for light areas, close together for dark
 – consider where the light is coming from – a lamp? a window?
 – simple scene – not crowded
– details are in the textures of the lines
– fill whole square with your drawing – that’s why page is small!
photo (22)
Each student’s drawing became a page in our book. I copied and bound a book for each student and bound the originals for our hallway display along with a photocopied West Wing for comparison.

– white drawing paper cut to book page size
– fine-tipped permanent black pens
– newsprint for scratch paper

Art Docent: Jen Clark
Room B-1, Grade 2, Mrs. Shimada
Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: LINE, Cross-hatching, Edward Gorey


One Response to “Edward Gorey – creepy stories and cross-hatching”

  1. Art Docent Parent September 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I am so thrilled to see this post. I am an art docent at my child’s school and have loved Mr. Gorey’s style since I was young. I thought his work would be too dark for a second grade lesson. I love your suggestions and approach, it has really inspired me to go for it with our first lesson of the year, just in time for Halloween. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

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