Lesson 7 of 10
Large-Scale Food Studies
by Debi West
This is always a super fun, super motivating lesson with delicious results! Students have often told me that this is the one lesson they are most excited to do. It’s a challenge, but one that they are all ready for!
They have learned to SEE! They have learned to Paint! They have learned how to use line, shape and color harmonies in order to create a successful composition, so they are ready! They are HUNGRY to have the opportunity to paint large.
I begin this lesson by asking students to consider their favorite foods. As they ponder this, I tell them not to divulge this information. Instead, I have them describe the food using their senses. I will ask them what it smells like, what it feels like, what it tastes like, again, without telling anyone what the actual food item is, so it becomes a guessing/thinking game. They find this to be rather difficult, but after a lot of laughs and a lot of deep critical thinking, the food items begin to reveal themselves.
As the discussion continues, I have them begin to doodle small thumbnail sketches of their food items in their visual journals based off of memory. And just like that, day one comes to an end. It’s imperative that they bring their food item in the following day, because the large-scale sketches will begin promptly.
On day two, I give my students a large piece of poster board and have them lightly sketch out their food onto it, creating a light under painting. From here, they begin layering their paint playing with a variety of painting techniques and color harmonies, always measuring and looking closely at their food sitting in front of them.
I do allow students to take photos of their food, although I prefer they paint from the actual food and use the photo as an extra tool to help them see subtle shadows and color changes. Students enjoy experimenting with the pastels, paint and various brushes, using their fingers to blend and working on their negative space, which often takes their food study to the next level.
This is a lesson that really emphasizes how important compositional arrangements and negative space are. Generally, the works are complete in about a week and a half
Students enjoy presenting their paintings to the class. We make it a “food allowed” day, with students who wish bringing in samples of their food to share with their classmates.
Currently, we have six of these large food studies being displayed at the Atlanta airport in the Youth Art Gallery … make sure you stop by the E terminal to take a look.
Up next … “Pinspiration Portraits”!
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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.