SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 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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learn facts associated with endangered animals, and, more importantly, ways to help these animals avoid extinc- tion in the future. We discussed how the protection of an animal's habitat is critical to ensuring its survival as a species. Environmental Artists One of the ways artists help the world is by creating artworks that chal- lenge, inspire, and motivate people into action. By discussing the role of art and artists in society, we thought about how artists share ideas about saving the environment. We focused our attention on two artists whose current work reflects this theme while displaying a profound ability to por- tray animals in realistic, playful, and unusual media. Rochelle Mason paints stunning examples of realistic endangered ani - mals. Students learned that her paint- ings are displayed in natural history museums and art galleries to raise pub - lic awareness about the need to save endangered and threatened animals. Sculptor and educator Angela Haseltine Pozzi created the Washed Ashore Project to educate, inspire, and motivate the public about the need to avoid littering our oceans with plastic and other forms of trash. Pozzi creates giant sculptures of fish, seals, seagulls, and even octopus made entirely of collected bottles, plastic, remains of boats, and what- ever her volunteers collect from the beaches of Oregon. Drawing Advocacy To begin the studio portion of this lesson, I distributed photographs of endangered and threatened animals on laminated folders. Students were required to pick animals that inter - ested them and to read facts about each animal's habitat, life span, and unique characteristics. I demonstrated a simple drawing technique using cir - cles and ovals to sketch an animal's form. Once students sketched their animals with basic geometric shapes, we discussed how to add details by drawing lines around their shapes, similar to the way skin is shaped by the bones and muscles hidden under - neath. Once students were happy with their practice sketches, they used rulers to draw borders around their papers. This helped students under- stand that the animal needed to fit into and fill the space inside the bor- der. I suggested that if their animal touched at least two edges of the bor- der, then it would be large enough to show more detail later. They sketched their pictures in pencil, then outlined the images using black permanent marker. I encouraged students to decide for themselves if they wanted to approach their compositions using realistic, abstract, or unusual rep- resentations of their animal. Some students chose to incorporate all three by drawing a realistic outline, abstract details, and adding whimsical colors and patterns. I also asked students to think about how to best include the elements of art and principles of design in their work. We discussed line variation, natural and organic shapes, warm and cool colors, pattern and attention to detail, and how all of these were important in developing their drawings. As students worked, they referred to the photographs to gather ideas and to look for ways to include impor- tant information about their animal and its habitat. Students' choices in solving the art problem reflected their own drawing abilities, level of confidence, and their personal approach for understanding and creating art. Assessment When students completed their work, I asked each to reflect upon and describe his or her process. As an exit strategy, students needed to state at least one fact they learned about their animal and at least one art term or technique they tried. All of my stu- dents, especially those with special needs, were equally excited about their drawings. Cheryl Suitor is an art teacher at Lovetts- ville Elementary School in Lovettsville, Virginia. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K S Students' choices in solving the art problem reflected their own drawing abilities, level of confidence, and their personal approach for understanding and creating art. 19

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