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Inner Worlds

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 Richard Hunt
 Cheryl Laemmle
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Yves Tanguy
Creator: Kris Nelson, Wrenshall High School
Title: Mythical Animals


Students will create their own mythical beast by combining features of different animals into one. Their creation could also include human or machine parts.


Look at the birds in Tanguy's painting. Are they real or are they imagined? Why?

Teacher note: Show several examples of mythical animals.

Stories about mythical creatures have been fascinating people for thousands of years. Several animal myths were probably based on real animals. Sailors on long voyages reported seeing mermaids, the beautiful creatures of the sea with the face of a woman and the tail of a fish. Historians and biologists believe the sightings may have been manatees or seals.

Tanguy, B
Yves Tanguy (eave tahn-gee)
Through Birds, through Fire,
but Not through Glass

oil on canvas
40 x 35 in.

Mythical animals may also have been intended to explain natural events that were unexplainable at that time in history. Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, was said to create wells and fountains by striking the ground with his hoof.

Other myths taught valuable lessons about how to live one's life. The Griffin. the creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle, is fabled to inhabit places where gold and precious stones are found. Those who sought out these treasures would be torn to pieces by the Griffin to punish their greed.

Discussion Questions:

Name a mythical beast. Why was this beast created? What purpose did the beast serve? What special powers did the beast have?

Look at Tanguy's work. What do you think the painting is about? What feeling does it arouse in you? Why is this painting an example of Surrealism?

Lesson Activities:

Draw a mythical beast on a 12 x 18-inch white paper. Include several different animal parts. Add human or machine parts, or create an animal purely from your imagination. Include lots of detail. Show texture. Fur would be drawn differently than feathers. You may want to look at photos of real animals to help develop realistic quality in your drawing. Add background that would establish the habitat of your creature. Show perspective by overlapping things. Use colored pencils to complete your drawing. Use value and shading techniques by combining colors and applying different pressures. Give a title to your artwork.


Wrenshall HS, PeacockWrenshall HS, Gremlin
Wrenshall HS, Griffin
Wrenshall H.S. mythical animal examples--(clockwise) Peacock, Gremlin, Griffin

Use paints, pastels or clay.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

Language Arts
Read stories from Greek mythology. Write your own myth to go along with your drawing. Will your story teach a lesson or explain something unexplainable? Next, act out your story. Make it into a play. Ask others to play the parts of different characters. Make a video of your play.


mythology--A collection of stories belonging to a group of people that address their origin, history, and heroes.

Surrealism--Movement in art and literature from 1924 to 1945 where artists attempted to give visual representation to dreams, fantasies, and the unconscious mind. Emphasized real objects in unreal situations, surprise, contradiction and shock.

perspective--A variety of techniques used to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface by mimicking the effects of distance on human perception. Perspective shows depth and make objects appear three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface.

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Discussion/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

Inner Worlds | What is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons