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Banjo Lesson

Essay by   •  July 5, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,873 Words (8 Pages)  •  2,276 Views

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I had never known about the "arts" and the different meaning of art until I started to take your class "Art Appreciation". I still have a lot to learn, but as I said in our first meeting, I am enjoying more than I thought. While looking through the textbook, nothing was jumping out at me and then while flipping through the pages, there it was. I took a glance and turned the pages, but quickly came back to "THE BANJO LESSON" by Henry Ossawa Tanner. I liked this painting because of the family value I saw in it right away. You cannot put a price on family, but you can put a value on what a family makes up. I firmly believe in family and the loyalty a family has with in its core. Without my family, you might as well take the same air that I breathe. In life, my family is what keeps me going from day to day. It is the life that I see in this painting that I have chosen it to write on.

If the ordinary person would look at this painting, they would see an elderly black man teaching his son how to play the banjo and nothing more. After looking into it, but not just staring at it, I did see quite a few different things going on within the painting. I see an old man who has just had a long day or week of hard work, but yet still has all the time in the world for family. I see a grandson within his grandfather's legs showing a sense of comfort and protection. A safe place in that time of history. The man seems to be a laborer, outside the sun all day. He comes home to house that is run down (old hard wood floors), not much furniture, but yet there is a neatly set dining room table with food on it. His hat placed on the floor, not a care in the world. Only with the exception, to spend time with his grandson, who is very eager to learn the banjo.

The grandson watches every move his grandfather does, as too show him that all his and their time together is well appreciated.

The table behind them shows that the man is a hard worker, and yet they do not live the life of luxury; but there is always food on the table in his house for the household. The only source of light are from what looks to be a window off the old man's right shoulder and what looks to be a fire place to the child's back. The sunlight outlines the man's body, the right side of his face but what it does show is the boy's intense expression to learn. It lets you know that they both are focusing on the same thing. It shadows his right hand as to focus on the exact string his grandfather is trying to teach him. The sunlight also shows the man's old clothes, his old beaten up shoes, but yet the lesson goes on. The light mixed with other colors in the painting give a different or a distinct weathered look. The painting doesn't offer a "symmetrical" balance but an "asymmetrical" balance. This is achieved by the different lights that appear in the room. On the left side of the painting, you are given natural light from the sunlight from outside of the window. On the right side of the painting, you are offered warmth comfortable setting by the light emerging from the fireplace. Both sources of light highlight different parts of the painting and again, drawing your eye to specific points within the painting. This affect is by way of light versus dark. The attention is being placed on the banjo as a focal point of the painting or the center of the painting. By using crosshatching on the clothes, both grandfather and child, you are able to see the different depth in the painting. You could also see this in the corner by the chair. The fire place to the rear of the child shows the warmth in the room. It puts a sense of comfort in the air, an essence of "home" about the painting. It points out that the boy is at home, both within his surroundings, clothed but in bare feet. Another point of feeling safe inside of his grandfather's arms. It shows the history of the time frame. The stool that they sit upon is old and made of wood showing years of despair and deterioration. It outlines the table and its contents there in.

In the painting "THE BANJO LESSON" by Henry Ossawa Tanner he uses many different directions to separate the many things going on with the art piece. He uses the lights and darks to show the difference in the different depths of the picture. By using the sunlight at the man's right shoulder, it shows the depth of the two in the middle of the room. It puts distance between them and the table behind them, between the fireplace and the distance between the window and them. With the combination of the light from the fireplace on their left, the natural sunlight on them from the right, and the negative light behind them, it shows

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