Saturday, January 4, 2020

Genres Around the Room

The basic tenants of a TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) classroom are:
What do artists do? 
The child is the artist. 
The classroom is the child's studio. 

This school year before my high school students started their drawing boot camp, I wanted them to think about the first question on the list: What do artists do? 
I wanted them to understand some of the traditional categories of art and introduce some that they are less familiar/comfortable with so that when it was time for their first choice artworks, they would have a foundation to build on and some new ideas of what is possible do they could answer another question: What can I make? The Around the Room structure created by Cynthia Gaub worked really well to accomplish this goal.

Here is a list of the activities we did, although I did this before  the drawing/collage boot camp instead of after as I originally considered.

For portraits I created some basic "how to" sheets with steps or notes about drawing facial features. I asked students to draw at least one nose, eye, and mouth for practice.

Students drew facial features on a head template to practice placement. I explained that observation is more important but the basic proportions are helpful to know so you can troubleshoot if something doesn't look right, or for when you are drawing from imagination/memory.

One of the activities was to finger paint a portrait of the student across from them. I forgot to tell my high school students not to paint ON each other so if you try this, learn from my mistake.

The last activity was to trace the contours of a magazine portrait. I know it sounds weird, but I explained to the students that it can help you build muscle memory and feel how the parts fit together.

Still Life
Somehow I didn't take any pictures of the still life activities, but here is what we did.
  1. I had a very busy still life scene set up with lots of found objects. Students were asked to zoom in, try different angles, etc. to practice composition in a photo.
  2. I set a little wooden chair on the table and asked students to draw the negative space instead of the positive. This was a difficult concept for them to understand- the empty space AROUND the chair instead of the chair itself. I explained that checking the negative space is a handy tool when drawing because it can help you figure out size relationships.
  3. Contour line drawing- I had a collection of objects on the table and asked students to choose one to draw the contours of, focusing on accurate observation. Learning to see is an important skill not just in art and even my students who prefer to draw from imagination tend to be more confident when they have a foundation in observation.
  4. I pulled out the tub of wooden forms that includes cones, pyramids, cubes, spheres, etc. and students practiced drawing them with depth. (Later in drawing bootcamp we talked more about perspective.)
Students had two activities for landscapes. First was to make a torn paper collage with background, middle ground, and foreground.
The 2nd was to use the ProCreate app to make a digital landscape using layers. We don't have enough iPads for everyone so some worked with a partner.

My example of breaking a composition down to simplify into abstraction.
The first type of abstraction the students practiced was through simplification. The students chose their favorite photo from the still life composition practice and abstracted it. This was also a difficult concept for them to grasp! I was talking to my teaching neighbor after school and he suggested showing the scene from Inside Out where they enter "abstract thought". I showed the clip the next day to reteach but I wish I'd thought to show it first!

The 2nd activity in this category was nonobjective vs abstract. I had cut sections of magazine pictures out that were interesting in terms of color, texture, lines, etc. but were just a small part so you could not tell what the original thing was, and glued them in the middle of a piece of paper.  The students used their choice of drawing supplies to start with the magazine piece and fill in the rest of the paper creating a nonobjective design.
The imagination activity was included in the same day as the abstract/nonobjective. Students went to and made a drawing based on one of the prompts. gives you ideas of something to draw that aren't easily google-able. 

On the last day I set out art prints organized by genre on different tables. Students rotated through each genre and wrote about their favorite piece. At the end I asked them to think about their favorite genre and why they like it. After our drawing/collage boot camp, students created work and identified the genre within which it fit.

My favorite part of the reflection was when a student that had been complaining about having to try abstraction for a day, realized he chose the most abstract example in each genre as his favorite. It's fun to challenge students' notions about art!

No comments:

Post a Comment