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Re: [teacherartexchange] "make it take it" question


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 18 2007 - 07:44:07 PDT

I see the chance to provide extra-curricular offerings as an opportunity to do some promotion, advocacy, and persuasion about the outstanding mind-building benefits of studying art. These benefits are important for all students -- no matter what their real passions happen to be in life.

Therefore, I would offer only authentic learning experiences that require the same kind of idea generation activities, choice making, and skill building opportunities for the students and the same kind of thinking skills allowed when working real art students. Of course the difficulty level has to be reasonable, but also a bit challenging (as in any art lesson) so it is not boring. I would not offer any mindless making for the sake of a cute product, but it would be fine to have some kind of product outcome. If I did permit any mindless accidental product production, I would teach them that in art we have to produce at least three for every accident that we decide to keep. They are only allowed to keep the ones that are the most unique, expressive, and evocative. They get learn our secrets of how we make choices. We always trash all our cliches! They would get to learn same standards of art selection that students in an art class are get to learn. We know that this ap
 proach is the most likely to actually promote a love of art and an understanding of the benefits of real artistic thinking. They may even learn to be artistic within their own fields of interest.

Very few costly materials are needed. I would think of the "make it take it" as a chance for them to "take" some learning about the secrets of how artists work and think. They could do something like contour drawing on a mirror with a marker. This can then be traced on printer paper so they can take home an authentic self-portrait that they learned to draw from observation made easy enough so that anybody can learn it better and better by repeated practice. They could learn to HATCH AN EGG by placing a hard boiled egg near a window in a darkened room and learn to do the gradations of tone by hatching of the shadows and shading with a an ordinary ball point pen.

Table grapes are great as subject matter.
I give them each seven grapes.
They eat two and one-half grapes.
They each arrange the other four and one-half grapes so they overlap.
They draw VERY LIGHTLY with pencil to fill a 1.5 x 2 inch frame on cheap white paper.
I turn off some lights so we have directional lighting or window lighting.
From observation, they lightly outline all highlights, shadows shapes, and shading shapes, etc.
They stipple the whole 1.5 x 2 inch picture using combinations of felt-tip colored markers.
Background (negative) areas are stippled first.
NO tone is allowed on the highlights. ONLY DOTS -- NO COLORED LINES NO SOLIDS -- ONLY GRADATIONS.
Gradations of stippling must combine of at least three colors on the grapes to produce the shades and shadows that are observed.
When done stippling, erase all the pencil planning.
They cut out the little 2 x 1.5 inch picture and mount it on a slightly larger rectangle of black, white, or grey construction paper (which ever looks best for the individual case). Or if you want to teach some color theory allow them to mount it on colored construction paper.
This is what they get to take home.

When I teach this lesson:

I NEVER do a demo of anything.
I NEVER show any examples.

"Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I might remember. Have me do it, and I have learned how."

I ALWAYS precede it with some preliminary practice.
They each draw some dime-size circles with a pencil.
During this preliminary hands-on practice I give them detailed verbal instructions so they discover the visual secrets of color mixing as they practice.
They practice gradation, using negative space tone, etc. to get nice looking results with only dots.
I fine pointed markers and have it be a small artwork. You can figure out a size that is appropriate for the time and the marker size you have.
When they are done, and every picture has been mounted, we take bit of a time to admire the beautiful results of our work.
While doing this we eat the remainder of our still life set ups.
We also take a bit of time at the end of this lesson to admire and talk about the work of at least one example of pointillism from art history.

This page shows a tasted, then stippled pointillist orange slice created by a college student.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.

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