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COLLAGE WITH A PERSON REPRESENTING ME
Students learn color theory, design principles, theme with variation, self
awareness and expression, surrealism, and an artist of African American
roots is studied.
We do these on a 12x18 backing, but any size would work. I give students
each enough constuction paper to cover the whole background. They have to
take it home and cut shapes of about 6 things from the interior of their
room at home. They are asked to make small things big and big things small,
and not to be too concerned about size (it will be surrealistic). They are
not to draw first, but observe while cutting the shapes they are cutting
just like if they are doing a blind contour drawing. Of course they do it
at home, so they do as they please. STRESS for them to bring back all the
negative shapes as well as the positivie ones. Those who forget to bring it
back have to do it in the classroom. Those who remember, get a bonus.
MATERIALS NEEDED IN CLASS
scissors, colored paper, glue
handouts (give out at very end), Bearden collage reproduction (to show AFTER
their work and discussion), Jasper Johns flag reproduction (the one with
white dot in middle to look at to illustrate complementary latent image
Step 1. (on the day they bring their cut shapes) REVIEW COLOR THEORY
Have a row of colored sheets of paper on the wall.
Ask them questions to find out what they know about the attributes of color.
See if they can tell which colors come forward and which go back when placed
next to each other.
Ask them about the values of the colors. "Does blue have the same value
(tone) as yellow." What if all colors were adjusted to make them equally
dark so they were all the same value (by adding black or white)? Would some
still come forward and some go back?
What if they had to make a design of many colors, but no parts of the design
would be allowed to come forward or to recede (it should look totally flat).
Can they give some ideas about how this might be done? Have them think of
color effects in terms of hue (name of the color), temperature (warm-cool),
intensity (brightness and saturation), and value (tone).
Discuss the culturally determined symbolism of colors. Discuss holiday
colors. What color is envy? What color is cowardice? What does it mean
for a person to wear a purple robe?
Discuss the emotional and feeling quality of colors (color psychology).
What color would be best for a dentist's treatment room? What color should
a pizza place interior be painted?
Clear some extra white space on the south wall. Display the Jasper Jones
flag (it has green and black stripes) in front of them. Stand aside and ask
them to stare at the white dot for 30 seconds and immediately look at a
section of white wall adjacent to the reproduction. Ask them what they see.
See if anybody has a theory about why it works. Clarify complementary
Point out that colors are always effect each other, and the same
color can look different in different contexts. NOTE: if you don't have
this reproduction yet, something similar can be made of colored paper.
Step 3. EXPLAIN THE COLLAGE ASSIGNMENT
No collage examples are needed before the lesson.
Assignment: USE SHAPE AND COLOR TO CREATE A COLLAGE ABOUT YOURSELF
Tell them the collages will contain the following:
-a colored cutout figure representing themselves and/or the negative pieces
-gray shapes they brought and/or the negative gray pieces they brought
-a few lines made from the same color as the figure
-a colored background sheet NOT the same color as the figure
Step 4. ASK THEM TO SELECT A BACKGROUND SHEET AND A FIGURE COLOR (by
thinking about what we have just discussed)
Step 5. CUT OUT THE FIGURES (from models)
Suggested figure size should be between 7 and 12 inches end-to-end
Both genders model for them so they can cut out a figure of their own gender.
Step 6. CUT A FEW 12 INCH STRIPS OF SAME COLOR AS FIGURE (for lines in collage)
Step 7. ARRANGE COLLAGE MATERIALS. LEARN BY DOING.
No gluing until a number of options have been studied. Remind them what
they have previously learned about juxtaposition (weird relationships) in
-Ask if they recall the difference between open and closed compositions
(open has shapes moving off the edges and trimmed at background edge and
closed is framed by edges). Both are correct, but they should try both options.
-Be sure they consider both the positive and the negative pieces left over
from the cutting of shapes.
-Be sure they consider overlapping. Encourage cutting modifications in the
shapes and adding new pieces if they are needed.
-Be sure they look from a distance before pasting. Place it on the floor to
see from distance or stand on chair to study it.
Step 8. LEARN BY STEALING
-Everybody stop working. Slowly move around the table and look at everybody
else's composition. "Decide if there any composition ideas you want to
steal (in your own way)." "Don't borrow ideas. STEAL them. Make them your
own. Don't intend to give them back when you are finished (as in borrowing)."
Step 9. When ready to glue discuss the work and get responses from one
other person. Make final own adjustments if and glue it. Don't ask the
teacher unles you have asked at least two classmates for advice.
Step 10. Post it on the board. Clean up.
Step 11. REVIEW COLOR AND COMPOSITION AND STYLE
-Lead a discussion of the work. Avoid judgement questions or comments such
as, "I like . . ." The purpose of the discussion is to learn about
composition, and also to learn about how to discuss art works. After
discussing one work ask the person whose work was discussed to pick another
work and point out what they find distinctive or interesting about the one
They'll want to talk about subjects. Stress color effects, size effects, etc.
Or, ask them to "Pick one of the works that has something unique.
Something not shown on other collages." Follow with, "What does that do
for the collage?" or "What is the effect on the viewer?"
Ask them: "What other types of questions they could ask about the work?"
LEARN ART HISTORY
Post a collage reproduction by African-American artist, Romaire Beardon.
Discuss it and his life. Emphasize how it reflects the things he was most
familiar with from his experiences, just like their collages reflect things
they are most familiar with. I read a few descriptive passages from a book
to introduce his work. Emphasize that he made aesthetic connections between
the music he heard and the jazz he saw around him. To hear some short jazz
examples is good.