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Meet the Masters Project: Mary Cassatt Hats

artworks 013Like I said, I may not be able to sit through a math lesson yet, and we can’t do our composer stuff because of the Three Weeks, but we’re still slogging enjoyably through our artist studies.  Our current artist, using Meet the Masters, is Mary Cassatt. 

To be honest, I’d never heard of her before starting this unit, and neither had my mother.  She is a VERY big deal in the U.S., but I suspect that here, with the liberal arts’ intense Canadiana focus, when it comes to “token woman artists” we learn about Emily Carr, whose life kind of overlapped Cassatt’s, instead. 

(and thinking about her made me wonder if I shouldn’t tack on a Group of Seven unit following our pre-made “Meet the Masters” units)

Anyway, Cassatt – and hats.

We watched the Meet the Masters slideshow and did one “warm-up” exercise (from the unit’s printable PDF) a few weeks ago.  I also got a few library books (and one DVD) to go along with this artist unit:

Today – broken printer and all, so I couldn’t even print the instructions – we tackled the “major” project:  big floppy colourful hats, Mary-Cassatt-style.

The project starts by introducing the new medium:  chalk pastels.  Naomi didn’t like them; she was hoping they would be super-bright like the oil pastels, but she got a bit into it after a while. 

We used two kinds of strokes, broad and skinny, to create a plaid “fabric”.  This concept was introduced in the warm-up exercise, but it’s been a while since we did it.

artworks 001  artworks 004 

Then, we drew a hat shape – to fit silhouettes we traced onto a different colour of construction paper – on the back of the “fabric” and cut it out.  I showed Naomi that because the hat was on the REVERSE, she could redo her lines if she made a mistake.  Me, too:  this was mine, and I didn’t like my original red line, so I made a new brim in orange; that’s what I cut out.

artworks 005 artworks 006 

Two hats:  mine, and hers!

artworks 007 artworks 008 

We drew some finishing touches on the hats (hat bands, flowers), then glued the silhouettes onto paper backgrounds and added the hats, being careful not to smudge the chalk.

artworks 009 artworks 010 

That’s where the official project leaves off, but I decided we couldn’t just waste all that spare “fabric” and Naomi Rivka agreed!  I made a choker-type necklace with some of mine, and then SHE wanted to make a necklace… and wowed me by cutting out seven little beads to go around the neck.  So I one-upped my necklace by adding a silhouette pendant – wearing a matching floppy hat, of course.  (it turned out looking more like a fish… sigh)


artworks 011She also added a shirt and some “stick-person” arms that kind of alter the effect – see top picture.  But I think, overall, she enjoyed this project immensely.  Like the Van Gogh project, it did exactly what Meet the Masters claims to do:  stretched both of us in terms of technical ability, use of a new medium, and understanding of the artist and her world.


  1. Hmm. I've never heard of Mary Cassatt. That sounds like a fun project.

  2. Cute idea! We know of Mary Cassatt from the Mike Venezia series. My oldest daughter has been a fan of the Impressionists since she was six. She's now a Visual Arts major at community college. :o)

    Thank you for submitting this post to the Carnival of Homeschooling!

    Peace and Laughter,

  3. We also study the Impressionists, and I wish we had seen this when we discovered Mary Cassatt!
    I love these creative processes - a great way to make a master's technique "your own"! The final art work is beautiful!


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