Grant Wood was born February 13, 1891 in Iowa. He enjoyed art as a boy and when he graduated from high school he took art classes and even taught art in a one room schoolhouse. Wood was known for his attention to detail and often took a long time to complete jobs because he wanted them done a certain way, but almost every job he took had some way for him to be creative. During World War I, his job in the army was painting camouflage on tanks and cannons! After the war, Wood studied in Europe and eventually combined some of the things he learned there from the older artists and their works with his own ideas to come up with his own style. He painted the people and landscapes he knew so well from Iowa, and this type of art was called regionalism. From 1934 to 1941, Wood taught painting at the University of Iowa. He passed away on February 12, 1942 from pancreatic cancer. He is best known for his painting American Gothic.
I always love to read the Getting to Know the Artist biographies by Mike Venezia because they do a good job of sharing the basics of the artist’s life and the funny illustrations always keep my kids interested. When we studied Grant Wood we also enjoyed reading Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood. This book has several short chapters and plenty of wonderful examples of Wood’s work, so we read a chapter a week over the month we studied him.
You might also want to check out Grant Wood: The Artist in the Hayloft!
My kids and I did two different projects during our artist study. Great American Artists for Kids (an amazing resource!) gave us the idea to make our own versions of American Gothic.
First we drew our own figures posed like the people in the painting. This is a drawing of our lizard and our dog, just in case you couldn’t tell! ; ) Then we cut them out and glued them onto a printed picture of the house from the painting.
We also tried a fun landscape project from Harrington Harmonies.
Grant Wood’s work is some of the most recognizable American art, so he is a great artist to share with your children!