SchoolArts Magazine

September 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 18 of 58

T H E O P E N A R T R O O M CONTINUED ON PAGE 46. C omposition is one of those subjects that just has to be taught. Effective arrange- ment of visual space doesn't c ome naturally to all art students. Poor composition can kill an art- work, while skilled composition c an make an otherwise boring sub- ject shine. Teaching it, however, c an be tricky, especially if you like to incorporate a high level of stu- dent choice in your classroom. Past Attempts In the past, my attempts to teach com- position went something like this: I w ould ask students to submit multiple compositional sketches before starting on their final drafts, then they would respond in three main ways. The first way was the easiest to deal with. There would be some grumbling, then the student would begrudgingly complete the required sketches while The Ten-Minute Composition Challenge Melissa Purtee looking extremely put out. The sec- ond way was a bit more combative. It i nvolved the student first questioning what the point of these sketches was, then begging to only have to do one, because they already knew what they wanted to do, then finally complet - ing the remaining sketches as quickly a s possible without really thinking much about composition. The third response was just simply not doing the sketches. A New Approach It was obvious that none of these outcomes resulted in much learning for my students, so I quit assign- ing the sketches, instead offering them as one of many planning options. However, I still needed a way to teach all students to exam - ine composition beyond their first i dea and think about possibilities for organizing visual space. What students disliked in the assignment I originally used was the time it took, so I planned to shorten the time frame as much as possible. I came up with a ten-minute challenge. The Ten-Minute Challenge Materials • Drawing paper • Drawing media of choice • A selection of objects to draw for each table Process Start by asking students to fold their paper into four sections. Tell them Skilled composition can make an otherwise boring subject shine. 14 SEPTEMBER 2018 SchoolArts

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