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Arts & Activities - Page 16

by Debi West LEARNING OBJECTIVES Fourth-grade students will … • • • think about the folk art of Howard Finster. create self-portraits in his style, telling their story with words and images. think critically about the symbols of our society and create their stories using these symbols. he letter “F” was a fun unit to teach my third- and fourth-graders since I chose to study one of our local heroes, folk artist Howard Finster (1916– 2001)! His art “farm” gallery is about two hours from our school, and he was known throughout the nation as a successful, self-taught artist. His genius lies in his marketing skills and his family continues to do well via his name. In fact, all of his children are now creating their own art using Howard’s distinct style. Howard Finster was a preacher and began to “spread the word” through his artworks. He used simple images with powerful words to tell his story. As I introduced his unique style to my students, I again elected to incorporate selfportraiture as the main theme of the unit. I think when students create artworks about themselves, their art takes on a T MATERIALS • • • • • • • Fine-point permanent black markers Multicultural paints 12" x 18" white paper Construction paper Scissors and glue Oil pastels Pencils Finster’s Fantastic Folk Art Fun horizontal lines. Then they created a storyboard of themselves and their favorite things. For example, one student drew a self-portrait in the top section of the bottle; the next two sections were drawings of her favorite places, while the bottom three segments became images of her family members and pets. Once these were all sketched out in pencil, the lines were traced with a finepoint permanent black marker. Students added color, using colored pencils for the detail work and an oil pastel “blend” for the outline of the bottle. For this technique, I demonstrated how to make a strong, heavy line right on top of the permanent-marker line, and then use their fingers to “pull” the color out to create a type of glow. This technique is used in several of my lessons as the kids love it and it takes the final art piece to ASSESSMENT Hang student art in class exhibits and have students sign their name to the art. Discuss the importance of folk art throughout time, specifically in the southeastern United States, then critique the art informally. VOCABULARY Folk art Narrative art Portraiture Tints and shades The following lesson plans are available at Kindergarten: Egyptian Clay Cartouches Grade 1: Haring’s Hokey Hats Grade 2: Greek Coins Grade 3: Finster’s Folk Art Faces Grade 5: Egyptian Sarcophagi LETTERS: E - F - G - H Go to for the link to additional “Alpha Art” lesson plans for other grade levels. 18 more powerful and personal meaning. My fourth-graders created “self-portrait” cola-bottle drawings using a variety of line families (straight, curved and angled) and color schemes, even incorporating the language arts through story writing! (The third-grade project, “Finster’s Folk Art Faces,” can be found on the Arts & Activities Web site.) Finster was not only known for being one of the most famous folk artists, but he was also known for incorporating images, products and local materials into his art. For example, he created many paintings using the Coke® bottle as his subject matter. Since Coke is bottled and manufactured in Atlanta, it seemed fitting to have my fourth-grade artists look closely at his Coke bottle images and then create their own. Students were excited to know they would be looking at different-shaped Coca-Cola® bottles throughout time, and then have the opportunity to draw their own large bottle on a piece of 12" x 18" vertically oriented white drawing paper. I find that direct observations can be fun when students know the art will incorporate many different techniques! Once the bottles were sketched out, students divided their bottles up into at least six segments using vertical and Kids enjoy designing their segmented bottle designs. the “next level” (not to mention it’s great for fine-motor skills)! Students were then told to select a cool or warm watercolor and lightly wash over the background of the piece. Finally, when the watercolor dried, students used a pencil and wrote a story about their piece and/or their life in the watercolor background! This folk art–inspired artwork looked beautiful, incorporated several art techniques and, best of the all, my students had a fun time working on them and exhibiting them! To borrow from the familar slogan: My student’s art … It’s the real thing! n Debi West, Ed.S., NBCT, is the Lead Art Educator at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga. x december 2009

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