Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Peaceable Classroom

The masterpiece featured in yesterday's post, A Peaceful Family by Julia, is unique in the history of this project.  Though it is my third year doing this project, inspired by a project found online while researching Edward Hicks, never once have I had a student paint an interior scene.  Julia is not your average student, though.  She is very patient and has proven herself to be an excellent painter.  When she asked if she could do a cat and a mouse in a living room, I got out my school laptop and found her some pictures of those ordinary household creatures.  (My large supply of pages from two Planet Earth coloring books and 10 library books feature more "wild" creatures, not the domesticated variety.)

Then came the dilemma of how to show interior space.  While I had taught them some basic techniques to create perspective in their work, it was entirely based on an outdoor landscape.  Julia attempted to show a room with a doorway and a line of sight into the next room, but I thought she could take it further.  Bringing back the laptop, I googled some images of interiors.  We looked at the orthogonals in rooms drawn or photographed in one-point perspective.  Without getting technical on her, we talked about why the lines go in towards the center (things that are further away look smaller, and even though we know the wall is always the same height, the part that touches the back wall looks as if it is shorter).  Julia then worked independently to sketch her scene.

But despite her success, I don't feel like it is an accurate representation of the project.  And since I've never blogged about this project, I figured now is the time.  To to show you a broader view of the project, here are all 23 paintings from this year!

Apart from showing depth (using any of the following methods: decreasing size, overlapping shapes, place objects higher up on the picture plane, using less detail or lighter colors in the distance, etc.), student worked on

     drawing animals realistically from a source,
     drawing a story about people from their imagination,
and mixing paint colors, particularly to create more natural colors

As with all projects, the levels of success in the paintings are almost as diverse as the students.  Some students are great draftsman but have very little control with a brush; other students struggle equally with pencil and brush.  Some students insist on a cartoon-like style to their drawings; other students continually impress me with their imaginative ideas and inspiring outcomes.  

The students also titled their work as part of their art log.  Appropriately, peace appears frequently in the titles.  A curious case is A. R..  The artist has a natural gift for drawing, whether from life, sources, or his imagination.  His first few marks of the bird had me quite concerned, but he managed to pull off a convincing aerial view from inside the tree branches.  I only wish he had more control with a paintbrush.  He is often in his own art-filled world and doesn't apply my tips for how to paint more successfully (for example, waiting until the paint is dry before painting on top of a shape).  But maybe he'll surprise the world with his talent and non-traditional methods...

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