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.

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