SY 2012-2013 2nd Semester Lesson 4: Shape, Space – Text Interpretation

Slides: 2012-2013 G9 L4: Shape, Space – Text Interpretation

Xavier School  |  Grade 9  |  by Josiah Gosingtian

G9 L4 featured image

The cover of the PDF file and its contents might seem familiar to some; indeed, this is a modified version of the 2nd lesson last semester (G10 L2). I wrote some chunks of text for my students to use for this activity.  There are 4 sets, which I’ve labeled Heist, Fantasy (I and II), and Blood.  In-between the first and second lessons, I ran a diagnostic drawing activity to figure out what my students know, and how they work when they’re given little to no instruction.  I chose text selections for them, at random.  Classes that worked on Heist for the diagnostic drawing activity drew either Fantasy (I or II) or Blood for this activity.

SY 2012-2013 2nd Semester Lesson 3: Character Design, Creativity Tool “Word Chain”

Slides: 2012-2013 G9 L3: Character Design, Creativity Tool “Word Chain”

Xavier School  |  Grade 9  |  by Josiah Gosingtian

G9 L3 featured image

I planned to teach figure drawing at this point (3rd lesson), using drawing animals with shapes as a springboard to drawing, well, the human animal with shapes.  After running it for 3 of my 8 classes, I took it out and simplified it.  Most of my students were horrified by the idea of having to use a ruler to calculate (heroic) proportions (8 1/2 heads, if the head is 2 cm, therefore the whole height is 17 and so on).  The math was simple, and yet an incredible number of them froze and flat out rejected everything in the face of having to calculate things.  This lesson was the hardest one I’ve ever taught in class, not because of the subject, but because of my inability to realize the actual difficulty of the lesson.  The odd thing is that the students that did listen to my instructions (and didn’t freak out) were able to draw the figure correctly.  I’m still rather torn, as a side of me believes that the original lesson was fine.  In any case, this version’s a lot simpler.  More students were able to relax and take it in right.  Time will tell if it really worked, though.  (The graded assessment is coming up soon!)

The creativity tool discussed here is the Word Chain.  I took it from the concept of mind mapping, concept mapping, and the idea cloud; I wanted to use a variation of those without having to dedicate a whole period for teaching mind mapping.  I thought it worked well with the use of silhouettes to design.  What do you think?

SY 2012-2013 2nd Semester Lesson 2: Shape, Texture – Animal Drawing

Slides: 2012-2013 G9 L2: Shape, Texture – Animal Drawing

Xavier School  |  Grade 9  |  by Josiah Gosingtian

G9 L2 featured image

This is a two-part activity where I made my students look for, then draw with the shapes they see in projected animal photographs, after which I made them practice different tone-and-texture-making techniques with pencils.

As you go through my slides for this semester, you might notice that I keep reiterating the movement from simple to complex, that art is done in steps.  This two-session affair showed me that most of my current students are unwilling to draw more than once per session (gasp!), with most of them becoming bored and inattentive knowing that they were going to draw animals “again”.  I might have chosen something that was simply uninteresting for kids these days; I’ll have to adjust accordingly.

SY 2012-2013 1st Semester Lesson 2: Shape, Space

Slides: 2012-2013 G10 L2: Shape, Space

Xavier School  |  Grade 10  |  by Josiah Gosingtian

M2 Silhouettes

The point of this activity is to show a different way of approaching drawing.  In the first lesson, we were all about the details, like where to place the nose, the eyes, and so on.  This time, the focus is on the form.

In movies and video games, characters need to be recognizable as quickly as possible.  Especially with moving images, where you may have only a few seconds to show a particular character, establishing their silhouette is a reliable and fast way to make them recognizable.  Picture a large, looming figure with horns, webbed wings, a tail and a pitchfork.  Even without the details, you’d probably conclude that this is someone you can’t approach for directions (unless you’re goin’ down).

In the slide that shows Queen Victoria’s silhouette, the text selection gives clues as to how we recognize silhouettes.  The shapes give us information; we see the crown at the top, which allows us to conclude that the person is of a royal house, and then there’s her chin, which gives us a clue about her age.

To be clear, the foreground isn’t always solid black.  It’s only for the sake of the topic (silhouettes).  It’s possible to have silhouettes in the middle ground.  For example, if you have a character that is walking out of a fire, the brightness of the fire will make the figure a silhouette.  Lighting matters.  You may have heard of the statement “against the light” (in photography), and what happens there is that the subjects become dark and lose detail.

I emphasized the fact that I have to be able to figure out what’s going on in my students’ dream scenes with just one look, and I’m glad that in spite of some fear regarding the perceived difficulty of the activity, they were able to create recognizable forms with stories that were fleshed out as they divided the space into foreground, middle ground, and background.

There was a warrior that leapt from a dragon flying above a burning city.  There was a submarine exploring a strange underwater domain.  There was a basketball player about to throw a game-breaking shot.  There was a guitarist playing before a massive crowd.  It was fun watching my students show me their dreams.  Yeah, back then, I wanted to have a dragon, too.

SY 2012-2013 1st Semester Lesson 1: Line, Shape, Value, Texture – Self-Portrait

Slides: 2012-2013 G10 L1: Line, Shape, Value, Texture – Self-Portrait

Xavier School  |  Grade 10  |  by Josiah Gosingtian

M1 Self-Portrait Guide

One of the things I noticed during my classes was that most of my students were not sure where to start when I asked them to tell me what they could glean from the self-portraits in the slides.  I remembered my younger brother during a trip to Musee d’Orsay, who asked me what I look at when I look at paintings.  He didn’t seem to be very interested or excited by the prospect of staying in a museum — which is fine, I’d say — but I gave him an answer that could be compressed into one statement: I look at artworks part by part.

Most of the time, I look at the image as a whole, then I move to what my eyes are attracted to first.  It could be a specific subject on the image, or colors, or brush strokes (texture), and as I move from one part to the next, my interpretation / opinion is slowly built.

In class, I often stress the importance of doing things step-by-step.  We learn the most from the process, but most of us have been trained to value only the end product, be it one’s grades at the end of a year or a finished painting.  Each step is loaded with information that becomes ignored when we’re too focused on the end.  Pardon the cliche, but it’s about the journey, not the destination.

What kind of expression does the artist have in his self-portrait, and what might this say about him?  What about his clothing, or objects he’s interacting with?  Even the background can give us a lot of information regarding the artist; it’s not “just clouds” there.  In this sequence of questions, you might have noticed how someone’s eyes might have moved to search for answers.  From the face, we moved to the rest of the body, then to objects that might be in front of the subject, then to the back.  Part by part.

As you go through the slides, ask yourself why an artist might make a self-portrait.  You’ll have a bunch of answers; try to see how these connect with the answers you had to the questions above.  For example, if you answered “vanity”, how do you think that would affect how the artist portrays himself?  He might paint himself wearing better clothing, or remove a few blemishes.  Consider: Durer was an artist whose self-portraits were like advertisements showing his skill and success.

The activity emphasizes the importance of taking things step-by-step.  If you make a mistake with the shape or position of your jaw, all of the guide lines will be skewed and the portrait will look odd.  Relax.  Again, don’t think about how it might turn out.  Focus on how you’re drawing each step.  Does it look right?  How does it make you feel, and why do you think you feel that way?

A good tip: the nose is a major feature of the face, and its position allows it to be a “visual anchor” for all the other parts of the face.  Even if you don’t use the guides, you can estimate the distances between parts in relation to the nose.

You may have noticed that I made my students use iPads.  The original plan was to have them use pocket mirrors, but the order didn’t arrive.  I had to improvise.  If you want to try the activity, I’d suggest that you use a mirror, too.

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