SchoolArts Magazine

January 2015

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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Elementary Studio Lesson opportunity to select a very specific point on which to focus. Each student is given a cardboard viewfinder, and table groups are given samples of still-life reproductions so they can spend time focusing in on areas of the compositions. Students are often surprised to discover that the image changes and becomes more abstract as they bring the viewfinder closer to their eyes. Exploring Electronics Once students have a handle on their observational skills, I introduce the electronic devices on which they will base their final drawings. Before they begin drawing, students examine the electronics for a while. They love exploring the interior of electronics, often commenting on how a set of gears can resemble a face, and how a bunch of wires looks like a spider web. After some exploration time, stu- dents use the viewfinders to sketch multiple angles of their electronic devices. I encourage them to explore a variety of angles and viewpoints: Pull the viewfinder back and draw the entire electronic (this may result in more negative space), or push the view - finder closer to the device and focus in Starting with Simple Objects The lesson began with a review of terms students studied during the simple machine unit in sci- ence. We also compared and con- trasted machines—both modern and ancient—using a Venn diagram. Students practiced drawing dif- ferent still-life items, focusing on observational skills and contour drawing. During practice, students were allowed to choose subjects from my collection of stuffed animals and small plas- tic figures. I use these items dur- ing warm-up because they are not as intricate or detailed as the interior of electronic devices. I want students to feel they can successfully draw simple objects prior to drawing more complex objects. Using Viewfinders Prior to distributing the electronic devices, I discussed with students the benefit of using a viewfinder to focus in on an area. I also discussed how using a digital camera gives one the B ritish landscape painter, Peter Prendergast once said, "Drawing is 90% looking, 10% doing." I share this quote with my students whenever we are using observational skills to capture what we see in pencil, crayon, paint, or clay. I teach them that they must take time to critically look for details that make each component in a piece of art impor- tant. To general- ize or stereotype details in a work of art does not speak to the skills and critical eyes we are aiming to develop. One unit I've developed to assist students in increasing their observational skills integrates with a science unit on simple machines. During this third- grade unit, students study machines and how their various parts (levers, wheels, gears, etc.) work together to make the machine run. To connect to this unit, I decided to have my art students draw electronic devices from observation, emphasizing the use of pattern and shading throughout the lesson. ELECTRONIC EYE Bob Reeker When developing observation skills, it is key to allow students to explore a variety of subjects and objects so that they can be successful. 26 SchoolArts

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