Art students solve problems in class every day - figure out how to mix a certain paint color, trying out a new tool to see if it will work on a given task, deciding what subject to focus on for an artwork... The list goes on an on. This unit is a little bit different. Students are asked to solve problems based on limitations - physical, material, or conceptual.
We started out by looking at artists that work with limitations - Phil Hansen, who learned to "Embrace the Shake," and Chuck Close, who had to change his technique after a seizure left him paralyzed from the neck down. Both artists have physical limitations that affect their work but they don't let the physical limitations hinder their art making.
Next, we talked about different types of limitations. Physical limitations could be self imposed, the result of an accident, or physical condition. Material limitations have to do with the material you are working with (making a deer stand out of toothpicks). Conceptual limitations are the trickiest - a limitation based on a concept or idea (making an artwork based on sound).
After learning about limitations, students were asked to create a group artwork based on limitations. An activity called "What's in the Bag?" Students were asked to work in groups (one of the limitations!) and each group was given a bag with the same materials - mostly random junk from the art room! Once they had supplies, groups drew a prompt from the bucket and were asked to create using all the supplies in the bag.
Now, finally after some group discussion, brainstorming individually and with partners, students have selected their limitations and are working on final projects. Many are imposing physical limitations, a few material limitations and a few conceptual limitations.
Students were given a list of famous artists and art styles - from early Egyptian art through contemporary art - to look at for inspiration. Once they found an artist they liked, they had to complete some research on the selected artist including finding images of their most famous artworks.
At this point, students have completed their research, brainstormed different mediums, subjects, styles and techniques and are in the process of creating of creating their artworks based on famous artists.
Printmaking is my personal favorite media. I like the process and problem solving. With many other materials it seems like the result is immediate. If I want to draw a cat, I draw a cat, make some adjustments, and then, MEOW! With printmaking I have to come up with a plan, figure out how to make it backwards, create the block by carving or building, make adjustments to the block or plate as I create and then when it's time to pull the first print - MAGIC! I love pulling back the paper to reveal the first print. Aaaaahhhhh...
Well, this isn't really about me or my love of printmaking, but what the students learn, discover and create. Print Around the Room is another in a series of "Around the Room" activities in which students are able to learn vocabulary and explore a media in a short amount of time. After, students can decide for themselves if they've had enough or apply what they've learned to another artwork. In this unit, we learned about prints, editions, tools, inks, papers and five different types of printmaking - Soft Kut , Screen printing, Collagraph, Styrofoam prints, and Monoprints.
It was a bit messy and chaotic, but there was much arting and discovery!
Students were able to create their own designs but were also given a theme for each type of printmaking if they had trouble coming up with an idea on their own.
Finished prints and a few print blocks:
In our current unit, painting students are learning how to be self-directed. When the teacher develops the unit, she comes up the the project, technique and medium. In this unit, it's up to the students to decide which media, principle, technique and subject.
Students started by digging around the room to see what supplies were available and were able to think about what they'd like to learn more about. They found a lot of random weird stuff that even the teacher didn't know about plus a bunch of supplies that would be worth using!
After that it was research time - getting ideas for materials and inspiration. Ideas varied - watercolor, clay, papier-mâché , stained glass mosaic, new air dry clay, melted crayons and a few other mixed media drawings, paintings and sculptures.
Check back soon to see the finished artworks!
Observation art is defined as drawing or painting from life. Typical subjects include still life, figurative, landscape or seascape. With observational art, the idea is to render the subject as accurately as possible. The image is not taken from a photograph or the artists imagination, but real life observation. Observational work is usually done in pencil, charcoal or other drawing media, but could also include collage and painting.
Eighth graders started their Artists Observe unit with some observational practice - contour line drawings, an upside down drawing of Mickey Mouse and value study including a simple geometric still life.
After some practice, students selected a media and subject for their observational art. The goal was to learn to look more closely and see things that may not otherwise be seen. We looked at some other artists that focused on observation for inspiration: Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Frida Kahlo, John James Audubon, and some student still life drawings and paintings, portraits and hallway drawings.
Serious artists at work!
Finished works were mostly drawings and a few paintings. Subjects were mostly still life drawings of personal objects but there were a few hallway drawings.
Here are some of their finished works:
Well done, eighth graders!
For their sculpture in the round figure sculptures, 3D students were able to choose their own media and had to express an idea, feeling or meaning. Sculptures were designed to be "in the round" - meaning they had to be interesting from all sides. Another goal was to focus on proportion - either accurate proportion or exaggerated/distorted.
Most students created human figures, though there were a few animal sculptures as well. The best part of this project was watching students explore, experiment, succeed (and sometimes!) fail with their selected media. Many students decided what they wanted to do right away, while other students dabbled with a variety of materials before selecting the one that fit the project the best.
Students were able to express personal ideas about values, feelings, fears, passions, loves, even favorite holidays and fictional characters. Each artwork was incredibly unique and creative.