Saturday, October 12, 2013

Exploring Visual Design Part 1

Once classes were officially "closed" and we completed a series of pre-instructional drawings, I spent a day or so talking about the elements and principles of art. When I taught middle school, I tried to address the concept, but approached it as more of the vocabulary of art and brought one or two in to each activity. But our time was so limited at that level, that we never really went in depth. Seeing my high school students four out of five days a week gives us much more time to grasp and explore the elements and principles.

So, I started out with a game!
Nobody was as into it as I was.
Oh well, hopefully I made an impression.
I got the idea for an Elements and Principles Memory game from Teach Kids Art. I played the game last year with my middle school kids and they were excited to make the connections between the objects and the vocabulary. High school, not so much. 
Perhaps it was because I asked them write things down. My hope was for students to actively participate, so I created a worksheet to go with the game. I also wanted to put it in this post, but I can't seem to find it, so it must be on my computer at school... until next time.

I started and ended the activity with a few points about the elements and principles that I read at the Virtual Art Instructor.
I began with a quote from Michelangelo: "A man paints with his brain, not with his hands." I asked students what they felt Michelangelo meant by that. Many suggested that people need to use their imagination and creativity. I suggested that artists also need to draw upon their experiences and knowledge to create. I tried to drive home the point that if you have knowledge, and really explore each of these terms, you will be successful in art.
I ended with the analogy that the Virtual Instructor used, that making art is like being a great cook. The elements are like quality ingredients that you learn about and appreciate through exploration. But you can't just slap a bunch of ingredients together and hope it tastes good. Instead you follow a recipe and in art, those are the principles of design. So many students are aspiring chefs, we have a fantastic culinary program, that this analogy was very helpful.

The worksheet that I designed asked students to record the object that they remembered, then write the element or principle it represented, while we discussed in class. There was also room for a written definition and illustration. Finally, students were asked to underline the elements in blue and the principles in red. There are posters in the front and back of the classroom with the same color code.

While it may not have been the most exciting game, which I will work on for next year, I feel that it  laid the foundation for where we went from there. Plus, the idea of the cooking analogy made so much sense to me that I used it in my speech for open house. I felt really confident and I feel the parents and families left the art room knowing that their students will be learning along with creating. I almost feel that they were more at ease after I explained my expectations and briefly mentioned how we will use the elements and principles. It amazes me how many people immediately tell me once they know I am an art teacher, that they can't draw. Its like the families had this same anxiety and weren't sure how to encourage their students. So it was nice to see them confidently leave my classroom.

I have digressed.
I have more about Exploring Visual Design, so look forward to Part 2.

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