For this lesson, I selected an artist’s work for a Picture Study and Writing activity. This is part of Art Appreciation where we learn more about Art through the works of specific artists.
To Be Authentic or Be Inspired?
There are 2 different schools of thoughts. The more common approach would be using an artist’s work as a reference point for discussion and inspiration to work on. Here, an artist’s work is introduced for the student to be inspired and learn from. (I would discourage wholesale copying unless it is for the sole purpose of learning the specific techniques and replicate the shades of colours.)
The other approach values the originality of artists (that is you and I- anyone who wants to do art) and refrains from showing an artist’s reference until the students produce their own works of art with just the instructions of the teacher. After their completion of works, the teacher will then show the artist for their reference. This method emphasizes on authenticity believing that each child is capable of unique interpretation without the need to be influenced by ‘famous artists’. They then proceed to teach the child how he/she can have equally important ideas just like the referenced artist.
There are Pros and Cons for each method above. To me, it depends on the purpose of intent. If there is a specific skill and technique or concept that I wish to impart, the first method would be employed. On occasions where I feel authentic effort is the focus, I would wait until the artworks are completed before showing them the relevant artworks for discussion and appreciation.
This Slam Dunk lesson 4 adopts the first approach which aims to
- strengthen Visual Memory
- cultivate Art Appreciation
- increase Art Vocabulary
- develop Visual Literacy (Ability to decode a Visual/Image)
- improve Oral and Writing skills
- 30 or 60 Seconds Picture Observation
I began the lesson with a Picture Observation of RED GROOMS. Fast Break. 1983-84. Painted wood and metal and gave them 60 seconds to absorb the Picture from the book. They then recall from memory what they have noticed. This forces them to focus intentionally.
Kids: Basketball, a funny man pointing -Go There! Blue and Yellow Team, it’s funny! a man slam dunk…
Qn: Tell me more about the colours that you see.
Kids: Yellow vs blue team, a green man pointing ‘Go there!’, red lines
Qn: What about the man in green, his expression? How is he feeling?
They ran out of ideas. We relooked at the picture again and delved into more details.
2) With Picture Discussion
Qn: How do you know the man in green is angry?
Kids: His face is red! Because he is pointing with his hands, because he did this (at this point I verbalised his action) Me: “You know he is angry because of his body gestures – he puts his hand on his hip”
Qn: You were all laughing hysterically, Why?
Kids: Because they’re very funny! Ya, especially the green man! (and re-enacts him)
Qn: What makes him so funny? More hint- Look at the hand that is pointing ‘go there’ carefully. Do you notice anything weird or strange?
Kids: The hand is longer! and ? bigger! The man in blue has a flat face! His face is squashed by the other team trying to slap him! Oh! I noticed the floor is not straight, it’s like a V-shape, even the basketball stand is crooked! Their feet are bigger. And the Buggs man raised his armpit! So the green man must’ve been unhappy with his smelly armpit! (more roars of laughter) Why their hands so long?
Me: You see, the longer and bigger, crooked, out of shape people and things give an exaggerated look. This in turn makes the whole basketball scene look funny and crazy- which is also called wacky.
Qn: Is this a dull or exciting sculpture? Why?
Kids: Exciting! There’s a lot of action and moving around!
Me: Yes, they’re all in the middle of doing a movement which tells you there’s a lot happening- somebody slam dunked. Hands and feet are all crossing all over each other!This makes the whole scene exciting.
What I like about the book Come Look With Me series, it has a set of questions and a brief description of the work cum artist.
Questions from the book.
- In what ways did the sculpture make this basketball game look wacky?
- Wherever you look in this sculpture, something exciting is happening. Point to two different places and describe what is going on.
- Would you like to be in this game? Why or Why not?
Here, Qn 3 generated lots of responses.
Kids: No, I will be squashed and have a flat face like that man! It’s too rough already! I will fall down and die!
Me: I see,you mean you will get injured easily as they are playing rough? (Nod from kids)
After the amusing time of discussion, they settled down and I asked them to write down 5 sentences of what we have discussed.
After the writing exercise, A started to draw the picture with interest. J also followed suit. It wasn’t my intention but I allowed them to do as they wished. My focus was to draw out meaningful conversations and generate interest in writing. Perhaps also try a hand in making a simplified 3D sculpture of some sort? We’ll see how it goes.
If you noticed, J has sharper observation skills and managed to capture the essence in his drawing. Nontheless, I am not discouraged by A’s product. To me, it was an admirable attempt in desiring to copy the image on both children’s part. I do not expect all my children to know how to draw ‘well’ neither do I expect interests in art just because I am an Art Teacher. However, I do expect a willing to learn attitude and value the process of how and why they do something. As much as possible, I believe that Art is important for children’s holistic development. Therefore these lessons. I hope to continue these lessons on a termly basis if possible even after I return to work. Before they get loaded by academics in Primary three, I would like to inculcate and grow their right side of the brain. : )
For more resources, do check out the following-
Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study (where I adopted the memory recall tactic)
Using Pictures as triggers for writing activities
I hope to also encourage the love of writing through such picture studies as well. That’s the beauty of Art, one can incorporate any cross learning from any subject area to integrate together!
How about using an artwork to generate a discussion over teatime or as an ice breaker? : )
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