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Arts & Activities - Page 32
a fter 20 years in the art room, I have found that one of the most difficult aspects in art education is lack of time. Each year I search for new lessons that will quickly teach my students a multitude of techniques. One tried-and-true lesson is from Betty Edward’s best-selling book, Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain. It is the ever-popular upside-down contour drawing of Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Igor Stravinsky—a study many art teachers have used. According to Edwards, drawing upside down is an easy exercise that helps students recognize shapes and lines in a picture. By simply turning their reference picture upside down they can begin to draw with the right side of their brain. The left side of the brain processes visual cues, interpreting them as familiar patterns and symbols. By turning the reference picture upside down, however, it becomes unrecognizable, and the right side of the brain is forced to see the lines, shapes and abstracted details, instead of the object as a whole. It’s a fascinating concept, and one I use early on with my drawing and painting students. I have found it a wonderful tool through which to aid them in drawing portraits as well. After my first year of teaching this lesson to my students, I began to think of ways to enhance the lesson. My conclusion? Extending the one-day study into a full-week lesson, complete with three learning objectives. now, but it can certainly be geared for art students of all ages. I begin by giving each student a copy of Picasso’s Stravinsky contour study and a 12" x 18" piece of white drawing paper. The students do a quick, blind-contour study of the drawing, upside down, which gets them used to seeing the interesting lines and shapes. We then turn our drawing paper over and do another study on the back, but slowly this time, really looking and measuring each portion of the drawing. This takes a bit more time and can frustrate the kids. But, I remind them this lesson is about learning to see and that is more difficult than it sounds. It’s also the key to being a successful artist! By Day TWO, students have completed their upside-down pencil drawings and we discuss what they learned. I then bring in my next learning objective and teach them the art of line quality. Students take their drawing pens out and begin to go over their pencil lines, adding thick and thin lines to create an interesting composition. This usually takes another class period, but it’s great to hear the students talk about how “cool” their pieces are beginning to look by simply adding line quality—an important art technique that often gets overlooked. This lesson is about learning to see, which is more difficult than it sounds. It’s also the key to being a successful artist! FINaLLy, I DO a COLOr-THeOry review with them. We discuss primary and secondary colors, neutrals, complements, analogous, tertiary, monochromatic, tints, shades, tones . if it has to do with color, we discuss it! Students then experiment with dry media—markers, art stix and crayons seem to be the most successful. Sometimes they work in oil-pastel blending and chalk overlay; I remind them it’s ultimately about finding the textures they most enjoy. They select a color theory to work with and lay in their colors using various media. The results are always outstanding! I have found that the more learning objectives I can tie into each lesson, the more my students discover through the process—and much more quickly! This is a tried-and-true lesson that always yields successful final masterpieces! n Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT is the art department chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. I’Ve BeeN TeaCHING THIs LessON to my high-school students for six years +3 objectives 32 1 Lesson = Huge success by Debi West march 2013 • 80 years x www.ar tsandactivities.com