Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Especially for Halloween, I’m sharing a great little art trick, that turns out to be a pretty neat treat as well.

First of all, a basic understanding of colors is helpful. Generally, all colors can be divided into two broad categories known as “warm” or “cool”. Warm colors — red, yellow, orange — are those that you associate with warmth, or with warm things such as fire, the sun, or hot lava. Cool colors — blue, blue-green, aqua — are those that you associate with a feeling of cool and with cool things such as the ocean, sky, ice and snow. (A few colors can work in either category depending on their composition. Green and purple are good examples of this duality because each is made by mixing a warm color with a cool color.)

Children are fascinated not only by colors and color mixing, but also with the idea that colors can make us feel a certain way based on their perceived warmth or coolness. Advertisers and designers are particularly adept at using our innate feelings about color to their advantage. As it turns out, warm and cool colors can also be used to manipulate our visual perception as well.

Which brings me to the art trick I promised! When creating any type of artwork, if you’d like to enhance the illusion of depth in your piece, remember this simple trick: warm colors advance and cool colors recede. Even the lightest application of cool colors over an area of your work, be it a painting, a drawing, or whatever, will make it look like it has been pushed back and is farther away from you. The opposite is true for warm color application, making that area magically seem as if it is closer to you, advancing toward you. And if you apply both in the same piece — warm colors on foreground images, and cool colors on background images — Wow! The illusion is striking!

Try this little trick for yourself and teach it to your students. The results are a treat and will be sure to delight both artist and viewer!

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If you’re an elementary school teacher, you know that young students are very enthusiastic about art. They are willing to try just about anything, and they are willing to try it with gusto. The older children get, however, the more reluctant they become to try their hand at art. When art experiences are authentic, they usually say a great deal about the artist, so by their very nature can make one feel vulnerable. By the time students become young adults, many have completely shut down artistically.

As a teacher at both the elementary and the secondary levels, it has been my experience that the single most important way to engage the reluctant older student in art, is to first meet them where they are. Initial lesson designs should rely heavily on skills that they likely already possess or will find less intimidating. (For example, painting a still life realistically using watercolors would probably not be a good first lesson choice, but using a pencil to create an abstract design using thick and thin lines might be.) Beginning with art experiences that virtually guarantee success, and showing students that you value their authentic efforts, will build their confidence and enable them to move on to ever more challenging art production.

A second approach that I used time and time again was that of providing a specific age context for the work they were doing. For example, while keeping expectations for involvement and exploration of materials very high, I would ask my high school students to imagine they were creating a particular piece of art for a viewing audience of very young children. This would allow them to “play” with images and design like a child, while still remaining their “cool”, older selves. It consistently produced wonderful results.

By presenting thoughtful lessons, and by demonstrating interest through questions and constructive suggestions, the teacher can create an atmosphere where otherwise reluctant older students will feel safe and are willing to take creative risks as they explore new materials, skills, and concepts in art.

If you’d like some tried and tested lesson plans that are sure to engage students of all ages, please check out my professional development class offerings through Fresno Pacific University.

So I’m wondering how many of you out there might not need Professional Development, but would really love some fantastic field-tested lesson plans in art? How many of you don’t need or want any PD credits, but you would love the opportunity to learn how easy it can be to incorporate art into your classroom curriculum? How many of  you see the potential that well developed art experiences could have in supporting your efforts to teach the new Common Core State Standards, but you feel intimidated by the subject?

If any of these scenarios sounds like you, would you be interested in purchasing the content only of the Professional Development courses I teach? My course books would be offered at a reasonable price, giving you immediate access to all of the research and theory behind my art experiences, in addition to the lesson plans themselves. (The one thing you wouldn’t get are the Professional Development credits.) I think this might be of particular interest to those of you who homeschool your children and who don’t need any graduate level credit or units, but who would love some fresh, powerful art ideas that could be connected to the rest of your curriculum. These could even be fun for Sunday School teachers and for parents looking for meaningful and creative experiences for their own children!

I have written five different books — two are specifically related to drawing, one to the many interesting things that can be done using paper, another is geared toward the creation of exciting and unique bulletin boards, and one is devoted to the topic of using art as a tool to create and enhance self-esteem. Each of my books was specifically written for the person with little or no art background and/or experience, so do not be afraid of the subject matter! Also, none of my lessons require any “exotic” supplies, which makes them even easier to implement.

I imagine I’d make my books available for purchase right here on this website, probably using something like paypal. Books would be sent electronically as pdf files for you to print out, use on a device, or some combination of both.

So let me know what you think about this, I’d love to hear from you.