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?

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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 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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