Lesson 6 of 10
Theme and Variation
by Debi West
As I’ve mentioned, this Art II course is one of my favorites. Why? Because students are learning to take their technical artistic skills to the next level by thinking creatively.
This lesson, which I often use as a midterm, is perfect in that it does exactly that! Quite simply, I have my students select an object—either something from the classroom or something that is special to them—and draw it nine times … with nine different views…using nine specific media…and incorporating three art historical styles! Allow me to explain…
Students are introduced to the lesson by looking at several student examples from past years and seeing if they understand what they will be doing. It usually takes a few minutes, but one by one, they begin to describe the lesson as they see it.
They see nine finished pieces on 6″ x 6″ poster board squares, with one distinct object, or an emphasized subject matter, per square. They then notice that the subject matter is seen and drawn from various views, such as bird’s-eye view, bug’s-eye view, zoomed in, zoomed out, and often viewed in many creative angles.
The goal is to teach our kids to SEE, and this lesson requires that they find a minimum of nine views of the same object. The challenge has begun!
Once this has been achieved, it’s time for students to select their media of choice and, once again, they can select nine media. Only one medium is to be used with each view, unless they choose one of their squares to be done in mixed media. Only then can they add all media to that particular piece.
For example, one view can be done in graphite, one in pen and ink, one in watercolor, one in acrylic, one collaged, one stippled using a thin-tip marker, one in oil pastel, one in colored pencil, one in chalk pastel, and so on. The goal is that students are showcasing that they are proficient in at least nine media.
And, finally, the last component—which I added three years ago—is the art-historical addition. Three of their final works must be inspired by an art-historical style. For example students have used Pop art, prehistoric “dirt” paintings (which is also a unique media to experiment with), cubism, etc.
Again, this is another area where students have the freedom to get extremely creative. They consider all of the art history they have been taught, including many contemporary styles, and incorporate this into one of their squares.
The final nine squares are then mounted onto a large piece of black poster board and exhibited for their classmates to enjoy.
This lesson is always highly successful and is a great way for kids to critique their work, as well as their peer’s work, using their rubric. The more creative, the better!
Up next … ”Large Food Studies—Deliciously Successful!”
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A&A Contributing Editor Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT, is Art Dept. Chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.