Monthly Archives: February 2014

Metamorphosis – Middle School

The process of change from one thing to another.  We see metamorphosis in nature, but after browsing Pinterest for new lesson ideas I cam across several metamorphosis projects.  Most of them were of cans changing from an upright position to a crunched position, or from a whole lemon into a sliced lemon, but I though it would be fun to do another surreal project that challenged the student’s imagination.  A quick google search for ‘metamorphosis drawings’ gave me great (and not so great) examples to show students.  I always ask students to look at the examples for the do’s and don’ts in their own work.  Some questions I asked when we looked at examples where ‘does that make sense? Could the craftsmanship be better?  What grade would you have given them?’

I started off the project talking about our key vocabulary.  I always give the vocab first, so that when students are  being given the project that can start forming ideas right away.  The vocab for this project was Metamorphosis, Surrealism, and Series.  Although Unity could have easily been incorporated I didn’t want to overload the students with vocab.  I find it better to focus on a few smaller words, but still touch on other vocab as we’re going over the projects.  That way, in the future, when I do introduce unity, they’ve heard the word in context and can make those connections.  I also talked about things like value, color, and craftsmanship.  How to make a polished work of art using skills we’ve used for previous projects, while we are focusing on new skills and techniques.

I always have the students make a rough draft and then give me a proposal.  This allows me to see whether or not they are under or over reaching as far as their individual skills are.  I am also able to reinforce vocabulary with them as they explain their proposed project, and help them navigate whether or not they are making decisions that are going to result in a work of art they can be proud of and learn from.  After the rough draft the kids got started.  With so many panels (at least 6 required), some of them struggled to sustain the same level of craftsmanship throughout the project, but a large portion of their grade is weighted on that area, so they were able to persevere.

Overall the students did a fantastic job.  Some students struggled with the steps in-between, but were able to pull it together with a little bit of guidance.  The hardest part of this project was helping the students achieve a consistent level of craftsmanship throughout all of the panels, but by now students are used to the revision process and asking myself and others how they can improve on what they already have.

Rhythm, Movement, and Emphasis

I am not afraid when to admit that I need help.  This project was one of them.  I have always struggled with teaching rhythm, and so when I saw a good teacher friend post some of her projects labeled ‘rhythm’ on social media I was so excited!  I sent her a quick email, and that night she sent me all her lesson planning material.  What she had down matched fairly closely to what I was already writing, but some of the detail of hers are what made it extra awesome.  She required more rhythms than I would have, and I liked the way she outlined her power points for notes.

I did not end up using everything she gave me, but the starting point was fantastic.  As a teacher I don’t believe I have all the answers, but I know when to ask for help.  I hope to never lose that ability, as we don’t stand alone in our profession.  Many of my lessons are based off of images I’ve gathered from Pinterest, remember from when I was in high school, or enjoyed in college.  I don’t mind tailoring the projects for my students, making projects fit my classroom.

I started off the lesson with notes, as usual.  We talked about emphasis first.  Creating a focal point in the artwork.  We talked about how to do this (size, placement, contrast), and why we do it.  We talked about whether or not something needed to be representational in order for it to be a focal point.  Afterwards we moved onto visual movement.  How does your eye move around an artwork?  Is it possible for artwork to lack any movement, and how do we tell if something has implied movement or not?  Finally, we talked about the 5 types of rhythm.  I showed them examples of each.  We went through slides and they identified the different types of rhythm.  Some of the pictures had more then one, and we talked about that.  I was able to weave in talking about emphasis and movement, as we discussed how to use rhythm to create variety and visual interest.  It was great to watch them pull knowledge out of their brains from prior lessons!

After notes I gave examples of different artists that used rhythms primarily in their artwork.  They were in awe of some of the detail different artists go into with their work.  This let us talk more about craftsmanship, planning, and the small details that can make an ‘ok’ work of art exceptional.

Then the lesson.  I required very little, but at the same time so much.  They needed to have a focal point, or emphasis on one area.  They needed to create visual movement.  Finally, they needed to have at least 3 different types of rhythm.  My students would need to explain how they created all these things, not only with their project proposals (rough draft), but also throughout the project and during their final reflection.  Secondary requirements were given as well.  They would need to display craftsmanship (always), and fill the page.  We talked about ‘blank’ space, and how even if you color in a space, it might still be ‘blank’, even if it was not white.

Most of the students worked in colored pencil, although I allowed several to experiment with watercolor and chalk pastel.  I always encourage the students to explore.  Although the official ‘requirement’ was colored pencil, if a student can justify why they want to use a different material, I let them.  They can’t just tell me ‘because I want to’ or ‘because it’d be cool’, but instead I make them tell me why.  Does it add visual interest?  Does it make more sense with your content?  Does it create contrast?  Etc.  The kids are good about it, and I love to see the different results.