Level V-Art Lesson 3: The English Opinicus
Learn to draw a mythical medieval beast. Use three values of one color to create dimension.
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 7 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
We have all seen a pair of griffins—the legendary creatures with eagle’s wings and forelegs and a lion’s body--holding up coats of arms. The opinicus, a variation on the griffin, comes to us from medieval Britain where it was used as a military decoration. One thing that distinguishes the opinicus is that it has the tail of a camel or a bear. Griffins of all kinds were thought of images of strength and protection. This 17th Century opinicus guards the entrance to a doctor’s residence in Spokane, WA.
The original opinicus uses gold paint to enhance the 3-dimensionality of the sculpture. We will use three values of one color—light, medium, and dark—to give dimension to our drawing. Then we will dress it with a gold paint pen.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the opinicus.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 opinicus warm-up (this is included with the lesson)
- 1 sheet of colored construction paper
- 1 fine tipped permanent black marker
- Colored pencils
- Gold paint pen
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Study the history of the Crusades, and find the variety of emblems that were used for military decoration.
- Read The Book of the Middle Ages, by Dorothy Mills.
- Read Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades by
- Medieval Life (DK Eyewitness Books) by
- Learn about what a similar creature, the griffin, meant to the Greeks at the replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN.
Language Arts: The doctor’s emblem crowning the opinicus is a red and white spiral that looks very similar to a modern day barber’s emblem. What was the connection between doctors and barbers in 17th century England? How has medical practice changed since the 17th century? Find the answers and write about what you learn.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Introduction through guided drawing: 35 minutes
- Finishing the picture: 90 minutes
- Total time: 125 minutes