SchoolArts Magazine

January 2018

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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I used excerpts from these books to introduce the concept to my students. The examples showed a wide range of approaches. Comics can reproduce a painter's style or abandon it for Charlie Brown simplicity. The narratives were fact-based but extremely creative. For example, Gauguin explores the details of his life with a Tahitian god of death. Criteria To make the comics manageable for students, I provided the fol - lowing guidelines: (1) Find an art- ist that interests you. (2) Draw a comic about him or her. (3) The comic must be legible. (4) The comic should be a minimum of four panels long. (5) The comic should include at least three facts about the artist. Other than that, stu - dents were free to explore their own styles, narratives, and interests. Research The first step was research. Stu- dents selected their artists. This gave me an excuse to showcase all of the biographies that I have col- lected over the years. I provided options that ranged from Leon- ardo da Vinci to Faith Ringgold. Students had their own ideas, of course. Maurice Sendak and Mo Willems were popular choices. One student chose Adventure Time creator, Pendleton Ward. Another asked if he could draw his comic about Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. "Of course!" I told him. My only criteria for research was that students use active reading. They were asked to underline the information that interested them, then circle the facts they planned to include in their comics. This approach helped students to read carefully, but it also helped me to see what they had read, what had interested them, and what they may have overlooked. Creating Comics After research, I provided pre-printed panels for students who didn't want to draw their own. Students planned Eliana Prero, Sendak comic bio. Art Historical Comic Books We were inspired by the recent wave of art historical comic books. Self Made Hero publishes graphic biographies. As of this writing, their Art Masters series includes books about van Gogh, DalĂ­, Munch, Picasso, and Gauguin. Nobrow Press released a great one about Audubon. The Louvre even has a collection of graphic novels. and even drawing portraits of the art - ists for our bulletin board biography. In an effort to pull back, I asked myself if my students could do this instead of me. The answer was no, not within the constraints of our one- hour-per-week. After a little trial and error though, I did find a fun alterna - tive. My fourth-graders made comics about their favorite artists. 18 JANUARY 2018 SchoolArts

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