I am currently developing a new unit for my grade 8s on abstract art. I’m thinking of making the unit question, “What makes art attractive?” or “Why is non-representational art attractive?” I’m also thinking of the concept as being that the principles and elements of art help us read and create art (or something along those lines).
I’m trying to keep it focused but find myself going off in tangents unintentionally. Regardless, I’m currently gathering and filtering some activities to help them explore line, colour, space, shape, balance and movement/rhythm. The unit will be about ten 80 minute lessons with various mini activities to explore these elements, resulting in them creating their own summative abstract painting. Here’s the first painting activity I’ll probably go with about balance and equilibrium.
If you have any great ideas or advice on this topic, please drop me a line. Once I get the unit planning done, I’ll most likely post it here.
Since I am on the topic, students will also begin the unit by exploring: What is art? What makes some things art, and others not? What makes visual art appealing? Whilst researching this, I stumbled across this interesting video where he explains what art is by looking at an apple.
DragOnTape (currently in beta) is a cool little website that allows you to make video mix-tapes (playlists). You could use it to stream all your favourite YouTube videos or create that great Metal Mix for that video party you are throwing! This could also be a useful resource if you have a TV/Monitor in the lobby of your school to showcase curriculum videos or student work etc. I’ve embedded a basic demo video below that has some text instructions. A cool feature I like is how you can share the playlist via a web link. So, I gotta get back to that Metal Mix (click me)!
(Note: At times, there are a few glitches. Since they are in beta, keep your eyes posted to the site.)
“TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.”
As promised earlier, here are those student images I said I would post. Sara H. is a grade 10 student and her work here shows some of her progress. These were taken halfway through the unit and I am interested to see how she will further develop and progress. At first, students used marker to prevent them from wasting time on erasing whilst learning figure proportions and foreshortening. We then move onto charcoal and pastel as well. After each drawing, students are encouraged to reflect on their work and jot notes on goals, improvements etc.
Recently I went to see an exhibit of Karl Hyde’s artwork (of Underworld fame) in Tokyo. His abstracts led me try it out as it simply involves balance, movement and colour. It’s actually more difficult than it sounds. Anyways, I thought I’d add it as adoodle activity and hopefully have students realise that you don’t have to be a super technical artist to have attractive work. Watch how it is poorly done in my video below and view the exhibition promo clip if interested.
I am busy but motivated this year. I find myself teaching just over 10 new units (out of 20), as teaching time for visual art at my school has doubled. With all the cutbacks to the arts I am reading about nowadays, I’m happy. Needless to say, I’m also swamped developing new units, implementing the MYP in grade 6, learning and co-teaching IGCSE (to eventually fade out?) & IBDP Art, as well as finding and creating resources for the new units and undergoing an accreditation at my school. But where else would I be able to have the flexibility, freedom and choice to develop my own units? That’s myelement.
Currently my grade 10s are studying foreshortening in figure drawing. As the classes generally progress, I find the gap widening between those that can and those that cannot. In order to assist, I created this basic tutorial for them at home. It’s difficult as it is the first time for most of them to attempt this. The video is not great, but I hope it helps as a reference. One thing I didn’t utilise in the video was using circles for the knees and elbows.
During class, we measure using markers instead of pencils and they usually have 10-15 minutes to tackle the proportions. We get them to use a yellow marker at first as it does not allow them to erase. They then go over their lines with a darker marker. If any of my students are reading this, let me know if the video helps.
I’ll also try to post some student work soon. You can also view the unit wiki here but it needs a slight update, as I have already changed/dumped some items.
I’m currently working on generating ideas for my doodle club here at school and remembered this fun activity by Carla Sonheim from her great book “Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun,” which I blogged on July 13th, 2010 (you can check the hyperlinks on that previous post). It’s a very fun activity suitable in the elementary classroom but could also fit in as a warm-up activity in Middle School. The steps are as follows:
1. Draw an eye anywhere on your paper. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
2. Draw a second different eye, several times larger than the first eye. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
3. Draw a nose or snout. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
4. Draw a leg or paw. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
5. Draw a tail. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
6. Connect the elements together with straight and curved lines.
7. Finish with markers or coloured pencils.
Here’s my digital example:
If you have any other fun ideas for doodling, feel free to let me know.