SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2019

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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38 MARCH 2019 SchoolArts M y students, like many teens, love to take selfies. I decided, why fight the selfie tide when I could help students surf high atop the wave through digi- tal photography, digital imaging tech- niques, and master artists? An odd combination, you might think, but not that much of a stretch. Using iPads puts a camera and a tablet in each student's hands, form- ing the perfect blend of tools for u nique digital images that go beyond the average selfie. The many apps that are explored in this unit give students choices about the tools they use to complete their selfies. Asking students to consider the bigger idea of identity and who we are as people takes the selfie beyond a moment of silliness into more thoughtful artis - tic exploration. Choosing a master artist to emu- late—but not copy—also adds depth t o the creations as students choose what aspect of their chosen artist's style they will incorporate into their finished artworks. Lastly, the unit gets students out of their seats and collaborating with each other, creat - ing an atmosphere of collegiality in t he artroom. Introduction to Digital Media This is the first unit we cover in our Introduction to Digital Media class taught on iPads with the eBook for the course that I wrote (see Web Link for a free download). The goal of the class is to introduce students to the other advanced digital art classes we offer, which includes Digital Photog - raphy 1 and 2, Animation, Experi- mental Video, and Graphic Design. This self-portrait unit teaches digital painting and drawing and introductory photography, including editing, composition, and lighting techniques. It also dabbles with a bit of art history. It is a winning combi - nation that helps students go beyond t he trite, tongue-stuck-out selfie. Yet it starts out at that selfie, reminding students to be playful and experi- mental in their choice of expression a nd setting. The list of master artists isn't magical. It includes contemporary and historical artists who provide students with rich possibilities for stylistic paint application and use a variety of media to make art. Students do visual research first to learn more about the artists on the list. I give an overview mentioning artists students may be less famil- iar with, such as Jenny Holzer and L ucian Freud. On occasion we have watched Alexa Meade's TED talk about her processes. As all of this happens, students begin to develop their concepts, providing context for step two. Inspiring Questions Step two of the process requires stu- dents to consider these questions: Who are you? What's your identity as a student, daughter/son, friend, art- ist, etc.? How can you express this through a meaningful self-portrait? What setting will help express your idea? How is the setting important to the concept? Which artist will help you express your concept? Once these questions have been explored, stu- dents develop a written proposal that answers those questions. Photography Techniques While students are working on their self-reflections, they are also learning about shooting high-quality portraits. They learn about lighting and basic compositional techniques (leading lines, rule of thirds, fill the frame, and level horizon) while experiment- THE AVERAGE SELFIE BEYOND H I G H S C H O O L Jeanne Bjork The goal is for the final portrait to no longer resemble a photograph, but to become a digital illustration. CONTINUED ON PAGE 63.

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