Friday, January 13, 2012

Teaching About Art Styles


I recently designed an assignment to help students understand the four different art styles of abstraction, expressionism, fantasy, and realism.  There are two different lessons, one for sixth grade and one for seventh grade but these ideas could be used for older students as well.  I think it really helped students truly understand the differences between the styles of art.  At my school we have the Davis art books by Katter and Stewart so we read about the different styles of art first and of course had some discussion about those differences.  I carried that discussion into the lesson.
My sixth grade students had to draw four small drawings (6x12 inch nice white paper) of their hand in the four styles of art.  To take the “edge” off of the concept of drawing their hand I had students trace one of their hands.  Students always seem to think they can’t “draw” a hand.  I then had students carefully observe and draw all of the details of their hand.  They then shaded these in with pencil or colored them with colored pencils.  This was their “realistic” hand.  After that I let them work on whichever hand they chose next.  They had to really think about each style of art and how they were going to be innovative, inventive, creative, and original.  Every day they worked on this assignment I repeated those words and explained how important it is to be creative in today’s world.  I gave students many different materials to choose from for this project.   When they turned in this project they had to mount it on either a long poster board with the four drawing shown one after another or with two on top and two on the bottom.  They also had to find ways to make their art project look like all of the drawings belonged together so that it looked unified.  Students had to write a reflection statement that was thoughtful about what they had learned, which style of art they enjoyed working in the most, and how they might change things in the future to make improvements to their artwork.
My students loved this assignment and seemed very proud of what they had accomplished.  Some were surprised that drawing a hand was easier than they thought it would be because of how they started the drawing.  Below are some of the examples of the sixth grade student artwork.  I’ll explain briefly the seventh grade project after that with more examples.  I also created a great rubric that I would include but I am having difficulty accessing it from my home computer.  The only difference between the sixth and seventh grade rubrics are the words “developing” and “emerging” as the rubrics are created based on the state of Michigan visual art standards for sixth and seventh grade.







The seventh grade did a similar assignment but it was more challenging.  I took a photo of each student.  I enlarged these so students could put them on a half sheet of paper.  My paper was precut and slightly larger than the 6x12, but 6x12 would work great.  I gave students carbon paper to share.  They traced the main lines of their photos with the carbon paper between their paper and their photo.  Once they had a simple carbon tracing they took those and drew over the lines adding additional details and color.  I know the carbon paper helped struggling students feel like they could accomplish this task.  Students were given many different art mediums to choose from to create their projects just like the sixth graders.  They were also encouraged daily to be innovative, inventive, creative, and original.  Here are some examples from my students.  These students had to also present them on poster board and write a thoughtful reflection statement.