Hi, Karen...I do this lesson occasionally which I think is pretty
successful. We've also had a couple of our pieces selected for the CA state
First...I read Ken's answer to your question. He mentioned the video about
Georgia O'Keeffe. If it's the same one...and I think it probably
is...you'll probably want to edit or skip part of it for middle school
level. At one point she talks about how she DOES NOT paint with a sexual
theme but at the same time a painting of hers is showing with a large
flower pistil or stamen (I've forgotten what that part is called, duh)
saluting at a 45 degree angle. It's not a giant leap of thought here. Way
too suggestive for my mid. schoolers. The video is long and boring for my
age level so I'd suggest editing by showing just parts.
I also introduce with prints and colored overheads taken from book pictures
along with parts of the video. I've amassed over 150 flower pictures from
magazines and especially old calendars. I laminate these so they can be
re-used year after year. I'm always adding to the pile. (I use to have kids
go through magazines to find them and that worked okay too but this way I
can get bigger ones.)
As an aside...I also have a huge pile of laminated animal pictures for
projects and another huge pile of anything interesting that's laminated
which I call our "idea file". Kids can go into these at anytime for ideas.
BTW...I tend to laminate anything standing still.
Back to the flowers. We make movable viewfinders with manila paper, make a
1" border around the edge, cut out into 2 "L"s. They use these to find a
section within their flower and look for the P&E's. I use the overhead
again to show them just how to go about this with "my" picture. I generally
ask them to focus on a section without showing too much of the edge...in
fact, maybe not showing the edge at all. We try to look more for the
abstract/non-objective quality than having it remain a "flower" per se. The
fiewfinder is taped down with masking tape (which doesn't hurt the
laminated sheet when it's removed).
Kids can select a piece of 18x24" colored construction paper. I like to use
this instead of white because it seems to give them a little shove to think
about "color". They must work this "color" into their paintings. I don't
require them to be perfect in their enlargements (with pencil first) onto
large paper but they tend to want to anyway. My quest is abstraction/P&E's
in this lesson so it really doesn't matter.
They use big brushes and medium ones and generally paint standing up by
their tables so they can swing their arms easily. I also ask them to try
different techniques of brushwork and blending colors into others. You'll
need lots of space for these drying and I hope you have a drying rack.
I've done this lesson with pastels too but I personally like the painting
better so I use the pastels for another great lesson I do.
I've also done something like this with laminated calendars of large
animals where they have to find an non-objective composition with their
viewfinder and include just one large eye of the animal as the focal point.
The eye stops being an eye and starts becoming a swirling mass of colors
and lines. We do these on 6x9 white paper with colored pencils and they are
fascinating to see. This is an excellent project for color pencil blending.
ALSO...did you know that if you use the "back" of the calendar page, you
can find mathematical magic squares and you can introduce some math into
your project as a filler at the end? Take any section of numbers where you
can count a 4x4 square and you can pretty much treat it as a "simple" magic
square. There's also a great "magic" trick you can play. I don't have the
info here or I'd explain more. Anyway...I hope this gives you some ideas.
Bunki Kramer - Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Rd., Danville, California 94526