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Building A Strong Foundation / Lesson 6 of 10 | Arts & Activities
Jan 2016

Building A Strong Foundation / Lesson 6 of 10

Building A Strong Foundation / Lesson 6 of 10

Lesson 6 of 10

Midterm Triptychs
by Debi West

After the first few months of school, I like to assess my students with a project-based midterm to see what they have learned and retained.

Of course, we are all charged with giving county midterms, but I also like to see where my students are in terms of their artistic mastery. I came up with this lesson several years ago and found that, by turning it into a triptych, I can quickly tell if students have learned the following:

1. To draw from life

2. To differentiate between specific color harmonies

3. To use various media properly

To begin the lesson, we review the lessons that students have been previously taught to help them build to this challenge. Students are first reminded that drawing what you see is much more successful then drawing what you think. So, students are asked to bring in a personal object or find something in the room to draw. They begin by doing several contour sketches of the object in their visual journals until they feel ready to begin their actual project.

I take a piece of white 12″ x 18″ drawing paper and cut it into thirds so students will create one work on each of the three pieces of paper.

The first work is drawn from direct observation and then that drawing is traced onto the other two papers to create a series of the same image.

Once this has been done, students select three media that they feel comfortable using, and then they select three specific color harmonies to showcase. For example, students may choose to use crayon, marker and graphite. In their first drawing, they may use graphite, and therefore their color harmony will be obvious: neutral colors, or a monochromatic study of gray.

Perhaps their second piece will be done using crayon and maybe they chose to use a cool-color harmony, so they will select blues, purples and greens to color in their negative and positive space properly using a crayon.

And, their third piece might be done in marker, perhaps using a primary color harmony so they will “paint” with their markers and fill in their work using reds, yellows and blues.

These three works will then be mounted onto a black piece of paper with approximately 0.25 of an inch in between each one and a beautiful triptych will appear!

Students can quickly see that they have mastered the three requirements and these make for a beautiful exhibit that showcases that students are indeed learning and retaining these new visual art skills. And, the best part? They have now proved that they are ready to move onto the wet media where they will explore watercolor techniques, acrylic painting, tempera washes and printmaking!

I believe that once students have realized the importance of mastering the necessity of drawing from life and how crucial color theory can be to the success of a finished artwork, the rest falls into place.

This assessment lesson is a wonderful tool in seeing where my students are, and helps me move them forward through my introductory curriculum.



Through this triptych lesson, you can quickly tell if your students have learned the following: 1. to draw from life; 2. to differentiate between specific color harmonies; and 3. to use various media properly.


Wall display of finished triptychs.

Next up……Watercolor Still Life

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Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT, is Art Department Chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga. She is also an Arts & Activities Contributing Editor.



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