Friday, March 18, 2011

An Art Lesson

Friday is often the day for art projects at school, so naturally Friday is often my favorite day. Today I taught a lesson about "Emphasis" : areas in a work of art that grab the viewer's attention. I like to use work by Georgia O'Keeffe for examples, and then have them do a flower picture of their own to illustrate the concept. Even by age seven, kids are bound by imaginary "conventions" about what art should and shouldn't look like, who can draw and who can't, who is good and who isn't. So to even the playing field I make some rules. We all start with a 9" square of blue paper (the sky) and another piece of paper 9" wide with a torn top edge, which becomes the ground, and then I make
two more rules: some part of
the flower must touch three edges of the paper, and the only way you can make a shape is by tearing the paper-- no drawing first, and no scissors.
When I back their creations with black paper, the flowers just explode off the paper. Today I was wise enough to bring my camera, so I could share them with you.

I love doing this art lesson with the 2nd graders, because once they get over the trauma of not being allowed to use pencils or scissors, they usually dive right in and tear paper with wild abandon. I find this exercise quite freeing for myself as well. It is good for us to ignore technique and technology once in a while and just play. 

So what do you think of these little gems? Aren't they gorgeous? Don't they make you smile?


  1. These absolutely make my heart sing-- these students are so LUCKY to have you as a teacher, you quite possibly changed some lives forever on Friday!

  2. I love how some of them extend beyond the edges; very out-of-the-box, as it were.