Move on to more formal analysis by asking if they see any lines, which
direction are they going, point out implied lines and then continue with
the other elements. Move through the other elements, then on to the
Have them close their eyes, then tell you the first thing they see when
they open them to start discussing emphasis. Keep them moving up to point
out things-- as physically involved as you can stand. When talking about
movement, have them move fast, slow, etc.
Invite them to speculate on what the artist was trying to say, making sure
they back it up with something they see in the work. If they have trouble,
give them two choices--an obviously correct one and a wrong one and let
them choose and then make them back it up.
Ask them if they like the painting. Take a show of hands. Assure them
that is okay if they don't. Then, ask them if they think it is a good
painting. If they think they artist used his/her space well and sent their
message, then they think it is good even if they don't like it.
6th graders aren't too old to respond to all this activity and they'll love
any dramatics you can add to the discussion. Help them "experience" the
> From: Emily C Onstott <emilyo.edu>
> To: artsednet.edu
> Subject: art criticism advice
> Date: Wednesday, September 23, 1998 7:22 PM
> I am looking for ideas on how to introduce some "basics" of art criticism
> to some incredible 6th graders...
> This is in preparation for a field trip to the National Gallery of Art in
> D.C....most of the students have never been to an art museum before.
> My wish list looks something like this-
> I need some type of activity that is going to give the kids a sense of
> confidence that they know how to look at and talk about art objects-- the
> majority of these students either (a) won't participate unless they are
> pretty sure they have a correct answer to offer, or (b) talk constantly,
> but without REALLY thinking beforehand - I would really like something
> that will maybe help them to build on their critical thinking skills in
> Some other factors --
> the activity needs to be structured time-wise and hands or "minds" on!
> Most of the children don't speak english as a first language, or don't
> have families who speak english in the home.
> If anybody out there has had success in this area, I would be so
> appreciative to hear about it! :)
> Thank you!