SchoolArts Magazine

September 2017

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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M I D D L E S C H O O L T he first day of school can quickly become a drag for middle-school students as they move from one class to the next, only to find that they have to review yet another syllabus. For years I've been searching for a new way to engage students and set the tone for the school year. I wanted my art class to be something they experienced, not just another class with another syllabus. So last year, as my students entered class on the first day, I asked them to leave their shoes at the door. They were going to paint…with their feet. The inspiration for this lesson came from an issue of Family Fun magazine. An article highlighted a young girl who was painting on a large piece of paper with her feet. How fun and freeing! Students, espe - cially middle-school students, can b e very guarded in their approach to aprons and all socks and shoes were left at the door. To protect the floor, I have used foam board, cardboard, and old pieces of mat board. Obviously, cardboard is going to be the most cost-effective. It will curl from getting wet, but it can be flattened out again after it's dry. Another option is to use Masonite boards. You can buy large sheets at home supply stores and have them cut into several smaller pieces at no additional cost. If you go with a lightweight option for your canvas, be sure to tape down all the corners. Palette Options In my classroom, we use disposable palettes, although we place the pal- ettes on the drying rack and reuse t hem day after day. Wax paper could also be used. It's best to tape the palette down near the canvas, other - wise it will lift up when students dip t heir toes in the paint. Leave YOUR SHOES at the Door Sarah Kitchen creating art. They fear that if their piece isn't realistic, it isn't "good." I wanted to encourage my students to take a deep breath and experience art in a new way. Introducing Abstract Art I began by showing students a brief pre- sentation on abstract art. We discussed e xamples from Piet Mondrian, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and others. We reviewed color mixing, complementary colors, and using a limited palette. We also discussed repetition, strong composi - tion, and implied texture. Then I gave t hem their criteria: fill the page, work abstractly, consider color, use a limited palette (four colors + white), use your feet, and clean up completely. Pre-Paint Prep Students wearing pants or jeans had to roll them up. I asked them to wear 38 SEPTEMBER 2017 SchoolArts

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