SchoolArts Magazine

March 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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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 do this, we created two matching sets of cards—five cards labeled with emotions, and five cards with draw - ings for each emotion. We divided the class in half and had each group match up the picture cards with the labeled cards. When both groups were finished, we went through the cards and asked students to explain why they made their choices. In fifteen years, we have had one group not agree on one card. This demonstrates to them that abstract representations of emotions are possible. From here, we moved the conversation to how emotions can be portrayed with color. Students were now ready to create abstract selfies. Capture the Moment Most students have cell phones and can take photos of themselves or their friends. There needed to be a lead-in to this project, so we talked about the old-school Impressionists and how they captured light, time, a moment, or a feeling. We encouraged students to be silly, sad, fun, or happy, and to use a dramatic lighting angle. The object was to capture a moment. Then we dis - cussed how colors and a color scheme can affect the mood of the viewer. Digital Painting While digital painting is becoming ever more popular, there is a learning curve to get from the traditional brush to the mouse. Alchemy is a web-based open drawing program with a canvas that intentionally reduces the level of functionality (no undo, no select - ing, and no editing). You can also use Adobe Draw, an app that will allow teachers to achieve similar effects on a tablet, laptop, or smart phone. The interaction focuses instead on the output of a great number of good, bad, strange, and beautiful shapes, col - ors, and styles. This requires students to paint with a more free brushstroke. They cannot paint a clean line. They must take risks with shape, line, and direction, paint fast, and capture the moment. We let students experiment with the tools, brushes, and colors. They could have as many canvases as needed. We also tried to get them to focus on the line style and color more than painting realistically. There are many settings in these programs that "force" students to paint loosely. The Results Students became more engaged with this project. Many photos were taken, fun was had, emotions and colors dis - cussed, but learning also occurred. Adding the personal connection of stu - dents' images and removing the fear of painting realistically caused the digital paintings to pop off the screen. We found that some advanced students wanted to add more color and shapes to the background, add- ing even stronger personal embel- lishments to their portraits. Wings, sure! Headphones, great! You always wanted fur; give yourself some fur! Anything that brings the work closer to students' vision of themselves can become fair game. Craig Huffman and Matt Young teach art at Pickerington Central High School, in Pickerington, Ohio. craig_ huffman@ plsd. us; matt_young@ W E B L I N K Adding the personal connection of students' images and removing the fear of painting realisticall caused the digital paintings to pop off the screen. Lane Wisler, grade nine. Adam C., grade eleven.

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