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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28 SchoolArts High School Studio Lesson S everal weeks of working in a studio that resembles a thrift store sounds a little nightmar- ish, but it was all worth it in the end. I always have my antennae up for easily accessible objects around which I can build a lesson, so for this one I selected clothing. Teens and clothing seem like an obvious pairing, so what took me so long? The reason I had never "tried this one on" before was because I wasn't sure where I wanted students to go with it. My "aha" moment arrived while my students were working on a Jim Dine-inspired challenge that focused on tools. It sud - denly occurred to me that the juxtapo- sition of soft fabric and hard-edged tools or kitchen utensils would make beauti - fully evocative graphite drawings. Adding Value While I was excited about this les- son, I felt that it needed an additional strong element. My long-distance mentor, Nicole Brisco, provided the perfect solution: a value scale. This bold, geometric element offset the shapes and surfaces of the other objects beautifully. Students could draw the value scale first, then use it to ensure the inclusion of a full range CONTRAST Fashion has to do with ideas. —Coco Chanel COUTURE of values in their drawings. But there was more: I also chal- lenged students to include: (1) a repeated geometric shape to create emphasis and unity; and (2) expressive marks in the negative space. The Classroom as Closet Rather than purchasing used cloth- ing from the thrift store, I instructed students to bring in their own items of clothing to work from—adding a metaphorical self- portrait element to the lesson. I allowed students to choose tools from the classroom toolbox to include in their compositions, and with all the clothing hung or pinned up around the room, students created 4 x 5" (10 x 13 cm) thumbnail sketches before moving onto their final drawings. I encouraged students to snap photos of their clothing and tools so that they could arrange the pieces in the same way for each drawing session. (Note: Students were required to make their actual drawings from life.) Challenges The biggest challenge throughout the lesson was incorporating expressive marks into the backgrounds without making them look like "starbursts" or The juxtaposition of soft fabric and hard-edged tools make beautifully evocative graphite drawings. Betsy DiJulio

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