“Art Works” is a monthly column that provides bits of know-how and reminders of ways to assure the success of your art program. In the coming year, look for advice and suggestions related to learning about, responding to and making art, integrating art into the curriculum, displaying student work, reaching out to the community, and more.–B.H. roup activities (when students work together in small committees) present a golden opportunity for integrating language arts in the art program. This activity not only emphasizes working together and respecting each other’s contributions, but it assists in aesthetic perception, knowledge of art history and responding to the expressive qualities seen in an artwork. Japan has provided us with three formulas for non-rhyming poems—all with short, succinct and delightful “recipes” to follow—which are almost gamelike in their compositional makeup: the haiku, cinquain and the tanka. It is best to model this creative-writing activity after selecting a painting or other artwork and spending some time describing, analyzing and interpreting it. Then, the class works together to compose a poem with all students contributing lines and counting syllables, following the format for that particular poem, while the teacher writes their contributions on the board, checking the syllables and adding or deleting syllables as needed. When the poem “checks out” correctly as to the syllable count, committees made up of three or four students may work together, with each group being provided with another reproduction of a painting or sculpture. One student in each group may be assigned to be the scribe, and when the poem is finished, another student may show the artwork and read the finished poem to the class. Here are formats and examples for these three Japanese poems. The first two are the easiest, and the third is a bit more challenging. No rhymes are needed nor are any complete sentences required: A HAIKU (high-koo) uses three lines to create a word picture and mood. Line 1: Five syllables. Line 2: Seven syllables. Line 3: Five syllables. 14 Poems and Stories Based on Artworks G “Bedroom at Arles” by Vincent van Gogh See van Gogh’s bedroom Blue walls, two chairs and table Gone now, dear Vincent A TANKA (tahng kah) has five lines to . when we Compose Together establish feelings and thoughts. Line 1: Five syllables. Line 2: Seven syllables. Line 3: Five syllables. Line 4: Seven syllables. Line 5: Seven syllables. “Surprised! Storm Ink the Forest” by Henri Rousseau White lightning flashes Winds blow through the trees and grass The tiger crouches See the storm in the forest! Henri Rousseau, were you there? A CINQUAIN (sin cane) is made up of five lines, each with prescribed content. Line 1: Two syllables. State the subject with one word, usually a noun. Line 2: Four syllables. Describe the subject with two words (noun plus adjective or two adjectives). Line 3: Six syllables. Describe the subject’s action with three verbs ending in “-ing.” Line 4: Eight syllables. Express an emotion about the subject. Line 5: Two syllables. Restate the subject with a single word, and possibly an adjective. by Barbara Herberholz Go to artsandactivities.com and click on this button for examples of a Preposition Poem and an Adjective Poem. PREPOSITION POEMS: After choosing a reproduction, students write one-line phrases each beginning with a different preposition (in, to, on, of, over, within, for, beside, under, above, below, behind, etc.). After five or six lines, the poem is closed with a final phrase that doesn’t begin with a preposition and that completes the thoughts and feelings about the artwork. ADJECTIVE POEMS: Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Students tell in these two-word phrases what they see and what emotions they feel. The final line need not be an adjective phrase. Now, after students are familiar with these poetic formats, they may choose one and write individual compositions based on a drawing or painting they themselves have created. PASS-IT-ON STORIES: Three students are in each committee, each group having a reproduction of a different artwork. Each group writes the first sentence or two to begin a story about their print, and after a few minutes, passes the reproduction and the introductions they have written onto a second group, who has written an introduction for a different print. This second group adds on to the story, and after a few minutes passes it onto a third group, who reads what has been written and completes the story with a few sentences. The story and print are then returned to the committee who started with them. A student from each group shows the print and reads the story. (This activity works best when using paintings that have figures in them.) n “Turn Him Loose, Bill,” by Frederic Remington Cowboy Bucking bronco Snorting, twisting, pounding Brave frontiersman and brawny brute Tough guy OTHER FORMATS for creative, nonrhyming poetic responses also find intriguing and challenging tie-ins with language arts, once again as a group or individual activity. Barbara Herberholz is an art-education consultant, an Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, and co-author of “Artworks for Elementary Teachers,” now in its Ninth Edition (McGraw Hill; 2002). x www.ar tsandactivities.com november 2009
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