Art 8: Visual Journals

My new semester of Art 8 students have started their year with a single page, 7″ x 11″ visual journal. I intentionally left the theme “open” so that students might choose a topic that appeals most to them. My purpose with this project is to drive home the idea that, regardless of their technical skill, each of them becomes a visual artist once they can express their thoughts and feelings in a visual way.
In class, I have discussions with them about developing a topic and theme. Students are encouraged to choose figurative images that relate to their topic but within their figurative choices, they need to explore use of a variety of Design Elements to create visual “Space,” “Balance” and “Emphasis.” I also lecture on the importance of Balance and Unity when using color.













Art 9: Grayscale Paintings

So, it is a little bit late in the year to be finishing our first real painting project but the grade nines have been working on a self portrayal in grayscale acrylic paints. Students were asked to pick a subject that would show a little bit about themselves. It did not have to be a self portrait but a subject that would reveal something about themselves. Students were given an 8″x10″ canvas (1/4″ MDF board) that was primed with a 50% gray and then told to block-in their highlights and darkest shadows in order to emphasis their need to use a full range of values.













Art 9: Cafe Chalkboards

Chalk Pastels are a great way for students to explore colour theory. I find that this project is a great one to do early in the year as it is one that moves fairly quick (it is easy to fix mistakes), it is a familiar medium and the warm/cool Colour scheme is easy to work with (although I do make exceptions for other high-contrast options). Beyond colour scheme, students are asked to create a Cafe Chalkboard using the Rule of thirds, and a strong sense of Unity and Balance. They are also asked to render Form in their food combo.







Art 9: Ceramics: Sinful Monsters

Art 9 students were challenged to create a ceramic monster based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. This is a sculptural work in symbolism and students will have to create a monster that represents their chosen sin.  Part of the assignment is writing a short (10 sentences) introduction to their monster that explains how the monster came to be who he/she is.  Each choice that the artist makes regarding the physical features of their monster should be deliberately related to the monsters personality and history and then explained in the monsters story.







Have I mentioned that I just love bisque ware? I think it must be something about its remaining potential or the authentication the work has been given by the clay’s vitrification


Art 9: Collage to Ink Surrealism

Students created surrealistic collages from magazine clippings and then used pen drawing techniques (hatching, scumbling and stippling) to create surrealistic images that focused on the use of value, form, space and unity.  I find the use of collage very helpful when getting students to develop a surrealistic image.  By initially constraining their compositions to found material, juxtaposition and surprise elements are bound to develop. After they have a minimum of 10 ‘found’ sources they can they use imagination to create the necessary connections to unify the whole scene.








Art 9: Cubism

Cubism, is thought by some historians, to be a reaction to the invention of video. The artists of this movement became challenged to render their subjects in a way that captured not only multiple perspectives but movement as well. In this project my Grade 9’s have been asked to divide their canvas into a minimum of 16 ‘spaces’ and then draw from a still-life subject into these spaces. As they draw, they were instructed to fill no more than 3-4 spaces with any given perspective, yet to choose perspectives that would promote a “Unity” in the overall, final image. Once the spaces were filled, students were then directed to render their still-life drawings with colored pencils.  (Last year, I asked students to use a minimum of four different media so that they might “capture” their subjects in as many ways as possible.  The resulting projects lacked a certain sense of unity and took too long to complete. This year I kept it simpler). My biggest regret? Not photographing these finished pieces before putting them under glass. Ah well, try and ignore my reflection and the “Just Do It” iPhone case.













Art 8:Visual Journals: Personal Mythologies

This is the first time that I have explored the idea of using Visual Journals in the classroom (and it’s about time as well).  I really wanted them to address the idea of who they are as an artist.  To do this, we had to first explore who they are as a person. The idea behind a “Personal Mythology” is that it is what we believe about ourselves… whether it is true or not is not the issue.  A personal mythology develops as a culmination of our previous experiences and personal interactions. Both from what people tell us and what we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are good or bad at.

On the back of a piece of 11″x 14,” student grade watercolor paper I have students brainstorm ideas related to their strengths, values, important moments, personal connections and influential people.  Then I ask them to demonstrate a visual connection to each of the things that they have listed on the front of the page.  I start them off talking about expressive line, shape and pattern, then throw a few image manipulation ideas at them.  Lastly, I show them some online examples of Visual Journals (usually at the point where some of their own ideas have stalled out and they need a creative push to finish the development of their page).












Art 9: Paper Fashion Show



Here it is! The 3rd Annual Paper Fashion Show! Art 9 students collaborate with the Drama 9 students to present a fashion show that showcases outfits made primarily of paper products.  The Art 9 students are told to consider Design Principles such as Contrast, Balance, Pattern, Unity and Balance while having to solve the problem of creating wearable outfits of paper.  I supply the basics; paper, paint, glue, hot glue (ouch), tape and staples. Students are responsible for add-ons such as construction paper, cardboard, pipe cleaners and glitter.  This year’s efforts have resulted in some fantastic creations.  A special thanks to our “Fierce” models and Mr. Croucher for hosting the event.

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Art 8: Structured Doodles

My Structured Doodles Unit is a great way to introduce repetition, pattern, balance and unity. Students start off doing a small exercise to demonstrate the concept of pattern by creating ten original patterns (which they can later use in their designs) and then we talk about positive vs negative space, balance and unity. Just the other day, as I was prepping for this lesson, I was online looking for relevant images and  I came across a website selling supplies for “Zen Tangles”. Lol, it was genius! They were selling structured doodles as a way to relax and increase focus! I wonder if Mrs. Henschel, over in the Math department, has noticed any improvement in her students’ concentration this last week?