My grade 10 art class are working on a major unit on generating ideas and creativity. To make a long story short, they have to visually represent a theme. They are still currently in the research and planning phase. I know their ideas may be adequate, but more often than not, they will require more breadth and depth. As a teacher, how can I push them to try new things? How can I get them to think outside the box?
If you can get your hands on Nicholas Roukes’ book “Design Synectics: Stimulating Creativity in Design,” I highly recommend it (Davis Publications, Amazon). He offers some enlightening challenges and ways to think. It’s pretty much a staple in the art room. His “Art Synectics” book is good as well.
Within the first few pages of Design Synectics, he gets right in to offer ways to challenge your thinking about your subject. I’ve compiled them below into a document for my students to consider and apply. Feel free to use it if it makes sense to you as well! You can also view the pages via Flickr here.
What advice do you give to your students of art? Yeah, the list varies, I know. I’ve compiled some ideas from books and sites etc., with Kit White’s “101 Things to Learn in Art School” being the most used. I was playing around with the Moleskine app on my iPad and my one page document on advice ballooned into the 36 page booklet below. It was also time for me to become more familiar with InDesign, so I decided to merge the two ideas. Only the text was done using this and I purposely kept the “art” looking crude. Have a look below and let me know what you think. Feel free to drop me a line if I have omitted a gem of an advice nugget for the art room. If interested, you can also view the booklet by individual page on Flickr here.
The great resource that is known as Art.sy has just been made open to the public. Art.sy states:
We provide one of the largest collections of contemporary art available online. Thousands of works from all cultures and time periods are accessible for study and enjoyment, and select works from our gallery partners are available to collectors. By making all the world’s art freely accessible, Art.sy hopes to foster new generations of art lovers, museum goers, collectors, and patrons.
What I like about Art.syis that it allows you to search by various subjects, movements and more (as pictured below). It can also make recommendations for you too. Start browsing!
Following on from my previous post on Art & Social Justice Education, here’s the second list from the book on “OUR CULTURES: RECOGNITION & REPRESENTATION.”
Kaisa Leka(International Disability Arts & Culture Movement): Find her work entitled “I Am Not These Feet” which is a comic chronicling her experiences with prosthetic limbs.
Darrel Morris‘ work inquires into the organization and normalization of gender and sexuality in American society. He produces pieces that challenges and destabilizes deeply rooted expectations of what men should do in public. It serves as an example of how masculine identity and male subjectivity is constituted in and through process of negative differentiation.
Nicholas Galanin‘s work captures the misrepresentation of aboriginal cultures. His choice of materials and images turns the exploitation on its head. (If interested in this, also check out the work of Canadian artist Carl Beam.)
Xu Bingmixes Chinese calligraphy with English words. Look carefully when viewing his work.
Bernard Williams‘ work has stylized black cutouts and heavily outlined images. He raids categories and appropriates symbols, objects, images & information in order to reinterpret and reimagine what it means to be American. It would be interesting to compare/contrast his work to that of Kara Walker.
If readers have other ideas or artists that can be included, please do drop me a line in the comments section.
Following on from my previous post, I’m still thinking about a “remix” unit for an art class. I’m leaning more towards a still image approach, but am keeping an open mind. The video work of Christian Marclay (“Clocks” info, Telephones video) would be great, but complicated. I’m thinking more about how the combinations of items/images can create new meanings. How do we perceive appropriation? What and how can we “sample?” What and how can we transfer?
We live in such an overcrowded visual culture with advertising, the internet, social media, TV and numerous other experiences. What would be an artist’s intention to sample work? How is it easier or difficult to appropriate work? What are the physical acts involved in creation versus the digital? How are they separate and how can they overlap?
It’s a lot to consider and raises more questions, which I like. So, similar to the tech unit planned, I am leaning towards “How can existing works (images/items) be used to create something original?” as a unit question. With the concept I am thinking of including how context and the manner of appropriation is used (i.e. juxtaposition). Naturally, I still need to refine these areas.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of visual journals before. I thought they involved too much “craft.” However, the more I read and the more examples I saw, the more I became interested. I am considering making visual journals as a new art unit of study for my grade 7s. The reason being, it may be a good way to introduce various ways of drawing and various other ways of utilising various mediums and presentation (that’s a lot of various). These activities may further assist the other units the students do on drawing and collage as well. I am considering the summative assessment to be a visual journal for their one week field studies trip that they will do in October. Anyway, as I read, I took some notes on journaling and compiled them into this attractive document to share here. I know you will be dying to read this during your summer vacation by the pool. If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll also let you know if I decide to go ahead with this idea.
As I continue to build my abstract art unit, I decided to make a crash course intro video for my students. It (hopefully) shows how abstract art evolved and how one can appreciate it more. Drawn elements of the video were done using Skitch. These JPG photos were then imported into iMovie, where they were repeated, stitched, sped up and then looped again to make it appear animated. Knowing my luck, I probably mispronounced names and added the wrong pictures. Feel free to constructively comment or feedback.
(Note: Expressionism has not been included in the video)
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.
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.