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Re: [teacherartexchange] still-life lesson


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 19 2005 - 12:20:09 PDT


Have small special interest teams of three or so students arrange their own setups. Setups are based on a list of open composition questions written to encourage active choice making. I would select team members so each team has diverse ability so at least one member in each group is strong enough to help the team function.

1. Ask each student to write at least one open question about composition.?
2. These open questions are contributed during a class discussion.
3. Write each unique question on a public list for all to consider.?
4. Add tally marks or student initials for each redundant questions contributed.?
5. Give a bonus point to each student who contributes a unique, yet relevant question.?
6. Invite students to spontaneously add new unique relevant questions for bonus points.

1. Arrangement
2. Elements/principles
3. Subject content
4. Theme and meaning
5. Style
6. Originality, innovation, imagination, surprise
7. Visual effects
8. Surfaces

They get to bring special objects from home if they want to.?

During setup, I watch. I contribute a few elements if something is looking trite. I might bring a length of dark rope and/or cord and ask that it be placed to create a linear element. I might ask them to add some heavy paper (white, black, grey, or if it is a painting use colored paper) that they bend, fold, cut, tear, etc. to fit into the setup and repeat itself in some way. They can add an empty picture frame, a pair of gloves, some eyeglasses, etc. if needed. I might ask them to decide on one item to be placed up-side-down.

Generally, in the media work I expect the paper to be more than filled, or the paper is cut down to size if there is a shortage of time or if the tools used are innately small and slow. Often I require the negative spaces to filled first. I think that changing work habits brings out creative thinking.

When students ask for advice (during setup and during the drawing or painting), I first ask for options that have been considered. Then I ask the questioner for possible ways to experiment in order to help make a choice. Then, if help is still needed, I ask team members to suggest ways to experiment to help make a choice. I try NOT to give my ideas about what would look good.

Prior to the critique discussion each student writes about one other student work (selected by lot so every work gets comments from somebody). All written comments must be positive or neutral (negative comments not allowed from peers). Each student writes responses to these open questions.
1. What do you notice first and why do you notice it first?
2. What would you title the work and why?
These are used to get the critique discussion going.

At the end of the project each group is responsible to find/select one still life masterwork to review. The review is a reflective statement written in response to the same open questions they used in their artwork.

Students of any age can be instructed in ways to put up neat, well designed, and orderly displays so that teams of students can be trusted to professionally put up their own works for critiques and for display cases. My work is to teach, not to put up displays.

1. Students learn to form open composition questions to help generate creative ideas that relate to their own lives.
2. Students practice making composition choices.
3. Students develop drawing (or painting) skills.
4. Students learn the value of sharing ideas with and from peers.
5. Students take ownership and responsibility.
6. Students learn to think like artists.
7. Teachers learn to plan the process, guide, direct, and learn not to take away ownership from the creators.

All rights reserved. This lesson may be published by the Getty and the TeacherArtExchange on their web site and archives, and it may be copied by art teachers for their own use, so long as this statement is included. This lesson may not by published in other web sites, books, or publications. For additional permissions, contact the author. Copyright - 2005

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171?
"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.

>> Question for the group:
>> After teaching basic drawing techniques and assigning projects of a
>> smaller nature, I conclude with a more complex still-life assignment (this
>> is h.s. level). How many of you set up more than one still-life in order to
>> give students a choice? I know that space is sometimes limited, but I don't
>> care to see so many final drawings that look so much alike. I suppose one
>> could set up a still-life on a moveable cart and have the students sit all
> > around it for a different perspective. Any other suggestions???

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