Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
“I try to be a truthful artist and I try to show a level of courage. I enjoy that. I’m a messenger.” — Jeff Koons
Happy New Year! We made it through the first half of the school year and I know I’m ready to get back to work after a two-week rest (well, a break from school at least).
Since the beginning of the school year, I have had my students doing more reflective writing about their art. Using their critical thinking skills has helped them to delve deeper into the meaning of their artwork.
We have also been talking more about diversity in our world and the respect all people deserve. They must understand and respect a variety of diverse cultures including the amazing art from countries around the world. By teaching them the history of art and incorporating cultural art lessons, my students are beginning to master these skills. This month’s focus is on Art Appreciation and History, Cultural Art, and using masterworks as classroom inspirations.
Take a step Back in Time. A great way to incorporate literature and art history is to read or at least talk about The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells. Why not make your own time machine! This is a great way to get the students excited about art history.
Every time you go back in time (you can have a virtual time machine or one made from cardboard boxes). you can dress the part (cave-man/-woman,
ear patch with a straw hat and candles glued onto it) I know you get the “picture”!
For the older students (fifth grade to college) try finding art trivia about an artist from the period. History, social studies, science, and English language arts are easily incorporated into any art history unit.
Finally Focused. There are many students who just cannot focus on note taking and listening to long lectures, especially about history. As art teachers, many of us can relate. Caren Wolfer, gifted specialist at Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, collaborates with all the teachers and suggests that these students should draw timelines on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. On a second piece of paper they can write short notes describing the historical facts and then add these to their notebooks.
Time Line on a Clothesline. This project can be done with any grade level. Divide the school year into periods of art. Highlight the main artists and styles, and have the students do re-creations of their artworks. They can even add a little twist of their own, as we don’t want to plagiarize.
Hang them across your room on a clothesline. Middle-school and high- school students can do this in a few weeks. Divide the class into periods of art. Have each student do research on a specific artist and have them re-create a work of art.
One great way to do this is by making the artwork three-dimensional. Have students draw their chosen piece on corrugated cardboard or cut-up boxes. Once the piece is sketched, the students will add pieces of cardboard to lend a 3-D look to it. I would suggest no more than four layers of cardboard. When the glue is dry, have them paint it with acrylic paint. The end results are beautiful.
We’re in it for the “Monet.” Monet is a great master artist for younger kids to observe and practice their painting skills. Emily Deacon, elementary art teacher at Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, suggests that paintings can be broken down into step-by-step simple color and texture layers. This assures that all students can succeed.
For example, to recreate a water lily–inspired painting, students would first use blue watercolor to create a soft water texture, thicker green paint for the lilies and then a variety of tempera color for colored dots as flowers on top. To top it off, they add tissue paper flowers for a final pop.
Projects, Projects Everywhere. Pick a country, pick a medium, and abracadabra, you have many cultural projects to pick from. A few great ones are paper-cutting projects from China and Poland, Adinkra cloth from Africa, Mexican Amate paintings, and Aborigine bark paintings from Australia. The ideas are limitless.
Happy Birthday to August Macke (Jan. 3, 1887), Barbara Hepworth (Jan. 10, 1903), Jeff Koons (Jan. 21, 1955), Francis Picabia (Jan. 22, 1879), and Peter Voulkos (Jan. 29, 1924).
Thank you, Caren and Emily, for your inspiration!
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Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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