Master of the Month :: John Everett Millais
Every month, I introduce my students to a famous artist. I write a kid-friendly biography for each of these Masters of the Month; I display lots and lots of their artwork; and, just for fun, I draw their portraits too.
John Everett Millais was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their work was characterized by its bright color and accurate realism. His most famous painting, Ophelia, illustrated a scene from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.
I knew nothing about John Everett Millais until I discovered his painting, The Blind Girl, in a book of art for children. I love the poetry of the painting, its color, composition, execution, and idea. And it inspired me to research the artist himself. As a teacher, I found lots to share with my students, but my favorite subject was Millais's use of sketches and models to create his illustrations. It is one of the magic tricks of art, I think, that artists can pluck an image from their minds and give it some reality in pictures or sculptures. A master's use of references and preliminary sketches help me share that skill with my students.