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 cannot expect even my own art to provide all the answers—only to hope it keeps asking all the right questions.” — Grace Hartigan
This month we will focus on drawing and color media. My students often have a hard time just drawing, whether it’s free-drawing time or an assignment.
This year, my middle-school students started to learn how to do visual journaling in their sketchbooks. For some, it was very hard at first but, now, many of them carry around their sketchbooks and journal at home in the evenings and on weekends.
I explained the concept of visual journaling and showed them examples from my sketchbooks. Their first assignment was a visual timeline of their life. Most of the students did a great job and when we looked at them as a class, the students who did not get it at first had their “aha” moment when viewing other sketchbooks. Every week I give them one journaling assignment just to keep them on track. The students are allowed to any medium they like or multiple media.
Drawing Beneath the Paper Geri Greenman, retired high-school teacher from the Chicago area, always liked to have her students use their eyes to draw a continuous-line drawing of student models. The students would use pencils on newsprint and have a second piece of paper over their hand. The drawings would often turn out quite funny looking, but it was a great way to use your eyes. This drawing skill is a great way to train our eyes to really see. If any of the drawings are perfect there is either a fabulous talent in the class or someone who cheated! When they were completed, Geri would have her students use paint or markers to fill in the body.
Mixing Media More often than not, we have our students use one media when drawing or painting. Why not use multiple? It mixes it up for the students and gives them an opportunity to experiment. Instead of doing crayon resist, try using oil pastels and watercolors. The colors are more brilliant and the results are incredible.
I have had my students dip colored chalk in white tempera paint, again it gives the painting a very impressionistic feel. You can also try using white chalk in multiple colors of tempera paint.
Many of my students are afraid to mix media while doing a project for fear they will “ruin” what they have started. I always explain to them that many times the experiment will result in a happy accident.
Gesture Drawings My middle-school students love to do gesture drawings. I have done this warm-up exercise with students from third to eighth grade, and have always had great results. I first demonstrate what a gesture drawing is. After that initial demo, I tell them that gestures drawings are usually done very quickly: 30 seconds to two minutes. At first it is hard for them to grasp the idea of doing a drawing in 30 seconds, but after a few tries they get it. (The students have fun taking turns being the model.)
“I don’t remember how to … ” Barbara Downing Owen and Cathy Gruetzke-Blais, from Tenacre Country Day School in Wellesley, Mass., have experimented with two responses to this plea from their students. One is a large, laminated paper pocket stapled to the wall in an accessible place in the art room. In the pocket are multiple copies of visual information. For example, a drawing of a skeleton to help a child remember the proportions of a body or where the joints move to show action.
The other way of presenting helpful review information involves taking photos that show each step of the basic process, like how to make a clay slab/tile or how to make a clay box. The photo titles are numbered in the correct order with short explanations that names the step in the process. For example: 1SlabTicTacToe.jpg, 2CutAwayCorners.jpg, and so on.
When the photos are printed as a contact sheet, the directions appear in order with the titles for each step. Print and laminate, and they are ready for the students to use whenever needed.
Happy birthday to Michelangelo (March 6, 1475), Rosa Bonheur (March 16, 1822), Grace Hartigan (March 28, 1922), Francisco de Goya (March 30, 1746) and Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853).
Thank you Geri, Barbara and Cathy for those informative tips.
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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