Art education, inspiration and encouragement for children and parents in Arlington, VA
The art week at Floyd, Virginia's Blue Mountain School was a great experience for me as a teacher. Students from preschool to the upper elementary grades all participated in making creative drawings that transformed into a sculpture by weeks end. We reflected on our work by giving critiques to each other based on the goals of the lesson.
For me it was a time to learn about a new school where children have small classes and go outside for fresh air to learn, run and play often. Once inside students are ready to be engaged with learning inside the classroom. Because the classrooms are small, it's easy to get to know one another.
I wanted to avoid using glue and so the solution was to use slits and tabs to hold pieces onto the base. Students have to problem solve how to build this piece of sculpture. This is after they have made the drawings and covered the paper with color to become the sculpture.
I wanted students to understand a few things that would help them look at art differently. Firstly that art in the art world is successful based on a set of agreed criteria. Secondly, when we use the criteria our art looks better. Elements and principles are tools.
We repeated and reflected each day on what our goal was so that a direction was consistent and clear. We were working with shapes and making them interesting by simply repeating, overlapping, emphasizing and filling the page.
During our critiques after each class we reinforced the goals and gave advice for how to continue.
This lesson is helpful to teach students what the elements and principles of art are, how to apply them and how to critique a work of art based on using them.
On my way home from Floyd I thought about the week and reflected on my teaching. Rules, there are rules that make good art what it is. These rules are good to know when one is stuck, or looking for a place to start. Making art like we did at Blue Mountain helped us know a few ways the rules of art can help us be better artists. Rules are meant to be broken too, but first it's good to know what the rules are; and why and how they work.
I'm so excited to be the Artist in Residence at Blue Mountain School in Floyd VA. With smaller classes and sun filled rooms, a dedicated, hard working, friendly staff I feel connected to the teaching/learning possibilities.
I begin each class with warming up by scribbling. This elementary exercise has a deeper elevation of learning that benefits brain function. As we concentrate on covering the paper from edge to edge, we also use our non-dominant hand, close our eyes, cross over our hands with a crayon in each hand, and more.
This helps our brain to wake up especially with crossing over and using the non-dominant hand. Our creative abilities are enhanced as we engage both sides of the brain. Our bodies warm up with vigorous movement and energy as we cover our papers with the elements of line and color.
After warming up, each lesson begins with a look at and review of the elements and principles of art. Our focus on element is line and shape with younger students and form with older students.
We pay attention to making our art go off the edges, overlapping and filling the space with a variety in size of the shape we have chosen to work with. How do we know we are achieving our goals? We take time out to do a critique of each others work. We identify the areas the student is successful: overlapping, going off the edge, using a variety of size, etc. We give compliments, make meaningful suggestions for improvement and end with another compliment.
Through our week as we practice each day reviewing and deepening our understanding of the elements and principles of art, we become more informed and able to speak knowledgeably about art.
Jean Frank Stark
I make art and have taught to children for over 20 years.