SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2014

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 37 of 62 33 sustain that emphasis and level of achievement all year. As it turns out, sometimes the solution is the result of a lot of research, but sometimes, it is the result of a very happy accident. Finding New Ground Recently, my beginning students and I were outside spray-painting sheets of watercolor paper. We painted the sheets one color, laid down arti- ficial plants as stencils, and re- sprayed the paper with a related color to create prepared grounds for a botanical drawing and design chal- lenge. When finished, students asked what to do with the newsprint under their papers, and I suddenly realized that each piece could be a beautiful prepared ground in its own right and, as it happens, one with a healthy dose of verve. On each piece was a two-toned framing device with each color offset from the other. Slightly off-center was an irregular rectangle of plain news- print where the watercolor paper had bled. The newsprint was practically crying out for a drawing or painting on top—especially a charcoal portrait. Because my students are either Advanced or AP, I didn't feel that a lot of instruction was necessary. So I lim- ited it to a PowerPoint presentation with the chal- lenge guidelines, steps, samples for inspiration, and a short YouTube video on the basics of drawing a portrait from a three-quarter view (for more dimension and lifelike quality). Adding the Self-Portrait To begin, students took photographs of each other using their phones. After choosing the best photo, each student created a thumbnail of it in his or her sketchbook before translating it onto the newsprint using either graphite or charcoal. students developed their portraits using a range of compatible media, including vine and compressed charcoal, white charcoal and conté, black and white china markers, and chalk and/or oil pastel. Some students embellished with stamping and text, although the initial experiments with text were unsuccessful in that they looked like labels and had to be reworked. After one student made her portrait too muddy with a heavy application of oil pastels too similar in value, I real- ized that I needed to caution them to leave a lot of the newsprint showing as some of their mid- and light-tones, while emphasizing contrasts that pop. Reflections Helping to underscore the aspect of "verve" was the time limit for the challenge: just two class blocks of ninety minutes each, less the intro and daily journal entries. Had this been a more protracted process, stu- dents probably wouldn't have been as bold, risky, experimental, or expres- sive. Knowing that they had a very compact time period in which to finish a moderately large piece sig- naled to them that I was looking for something fresh and exciting, yet still accurate and well-composed. Working faster and more efficiently using a few tricks of the trade is some- thing we have been working on ever since I stumbled across an outstand- ing article by Amiria Robinson on the Student Art Guide website, entitled "How to Draw and Paint Faster: 15 Tips for High School Art Students." This challenge helped to underscore not only how to achieve verve, but how to do it relatively quickly using strategies from the article with our own "accidental" twists. Betsy DiJulio is a National Board Certified art teacher at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is also an artist, a freelance writer, an art reviewer, and the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. betsy.dijulio N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Creating: conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work. W E B L I N K how-to-draw-and-paint-faster I suddenly realized that each piece could be a beautiful prepared ground in its own right and, as it happens, one with a healthy dose of verve. Emily Baragar.

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