Fireflies: The "Art" of Gratitude - Jean Francois Millet         

Apr 24, 2013

The "Art" of Gratitude - Jean Francois Millet

Jean Francois Millet painted gratitude, if ever I dare to say such a thing!  I have often thought to myself, "How would you paint gratitude, Laura?"  And my "self" answered and did paint one painting entitled "Gratitude," which you can find here, but it is not an easy task I found.  I guess most of what I paint is that which I am grateful for, but to actually paint the meaning of the word is another story.  To really convey the topic of gratitude, one must really put on one's thinking cap.  This might be a great activity for your child.  Ask him/her to paint gratitude after they understand what it means, and see what they come up with.  Please share with us; we would love to see their inspired artwork! 

The French realist painter, Millet, (1814 -1875) painted three paintings I want to share with you that speak to our hearts on this topic.  Let these paintings speak louder than words and enjoy.  Here are some questions to ponder over this first famous painting above entitled, "The Angelus:"

1.  What are these people doing in the painting?  (Praying.)
2.  What is in the basket and laying near the man's feet and the pitchfork?  (Potatoes.)
3.  Why do you think they are praying?  (They are probably thanking God for the crop of potatoes they are digging up and perhaps asking God to bless it and multiply it.)

Here is another painting of gratitude entitled "The Gleaners:"
 A "gleaner" is a person, generally a poor person, who is allowed to pick up the wheat that was missed from a field after it is harvested.  Ruth, from the Bible was a gleaner.  She gleaned from Boaz's field.  God blessed Ruth, and her attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for being able to glean from Boaz, gave her favor in his sight.  After explaining what a "gleaner" is to your child and sharing the children's Bible story of Ruth and Boaz with them, share this painting and ask these questions:

1.  What are the women doing in this painting?  (Gleaning the leftover wheat.)
2.  How did God bless Ruth when she gleaned wheat in Boaz's field?  (Boaz asked the men to drop extra wheat for her because he noticed her heart of gratitude.  He also eventually asked to marry her.)
3.  Do you think the women in the painting thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (Yes.)  Why?  (Because they did not plant it or get paid to harvest it; it was a blessing to their family.)
4.  Do you think the harvesters thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (No.)  Why?  (Because they already harvested most of the grain and this was "waste" or "leftover" to them.)

Here is another famous Millet painting, "The Sower:"

1.  What is the man doing?  (Planting or "sowing" seed.  See the seeds falling from his extended hand?)
2.  Do you think he will pray for a harvest over these seeds?  (Yes!)
3.  What does he need to do to in order for God to bless his seed?  (Water the seed, take care of it, be grateful for it, and continue to pray for it.)

I hope you have enjoyed these gratitude paintings by Jean Francois Millet!  I love the heart of gratitude they represent and that your children will understand more deeply what gratitude means through this master artist's work.  

Love and infinite blessings,

Laura Bird Miller, artist/art instructor

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