handouts with the basic information,
along with barn roof details. The
artwork of Charles Sheeler and the
Wyeth family provided examples of
how artists have incorporated barns
into landscape paintings.
Because I wanted my barn photographs to be used only as a visual
resource, we next discussed the
visual implications of the different
seasons on the landscape. Using an
overhead projector, we developed a
classification grid for the seasons.
The students were then asked to
decide what season of the year they
would like to depict and to brainstorm ideas that could be incorporated into their compositions. The list
included wild and domestic animals,
plants, trees, equipment, fences, and
This discussion of possible composition elements continued into
day two. Using a color transparency
of one of my barn photos, I demonstrated how the barn photographs
could be used as a resource but not
as a direct copy.
Students each selected a numbered, laminated barn photograph to
use. (The photos were collected at the
end of each period so that students
in other classes could also use them.)
We reviewed the Rule of Thirds concept for composition and discussed
the evaluation rubric. In addition, we
practiced the basics of two-point perspective and different eye-level views.
Kelsey Sweeney, grade seven.
Students spent the next couple of
days drawing their barn compositions
on 12 x 18" ( 30 x 46 cm) paper. Composition criteria included the use of
foreground, middle ground, and background, as well as overlapping objects.
A cart of books from the school’s
library provided additional images for
animals and farm equipment.
On day five of the unit, I demonstrated acrylic paint mixing of tints,
shades, and intermediate colors,
along with blending techniques. We
discussed the order of painting and I
encouraged students to begin painting with the large areas first, saving
the details for last. An additional six
classes were devoted to painting.
The successful final paintings
were the end products of a unit that
sparked personal interest in the students. Several students brought in
their own barn resources, representing a barn that was important in
their family history. Others enjoyed
selecting images they recognized in
the environment that surrounds our
community. While very few of my
students actually live in a rural setting, they all enjoyed learning about
the barns of Wisconsin.
Apps, Jerry. Barns of Wisconsin. Black
Earth, Wisconsin: Trail Books,
“The Wyeth Family.” Scholastic Art
Magazine. Sept/Oct 2003. Vol. 34,
Karen Watson-Newlin is an art teacher
at Badger Ridge Middle School in Verona,
Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and
processes to enhance communication
of their experiences and ideas.