Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Getting emotional about art

How do you teach Expressionism?  I struggle with that very thought every year.  Teenagers have a way of either avoiding their emotions or being way too in tune with them.  Maybe that is just the teenagers I am around, but I swear some of them are trying to win an Oscar for most drama in their life.  And the award goes to...

So as we approach Expressionism, I have my students start by looking at works from Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch.  Both artists are huge influences in expressionist art and they are both artists that the students have heard of.  Sometimes that is the easiest way to sell a new style, if the kids can recognize an artist then they feel like they know something.

After we look at their works and we watch a short video about them, we talk about how to show emotions in art.  We start by making a sample work of art where we draw a tree and divide it in half.  I then give them a short demo in chalk painting.  I'm not sure if that is the correct title, but we dip old chalk pastels into acrylic paints and then apply it to paper so that the chalk and paint mix to form both a texture and new colors.  I then have the students paint half of their tree in happy colors and the other half in depressing colors.  Most students do bright colors on one side, and dark on the other, but occasionally you get a little variety.

This year I wanted to add a little bit more to the project.  I didn't just want to turn them loose and tell them to create a picture and give it an emotional color scheme.  Most years when I have done that I get happy pictures.  Which is fine, but there are so many more emotions out there that could create wonderful works of art.  So this year, I had them spin my wheel of decide to see what emotion they had to use in their work of art.  Once the wheel landed they needed to take that emotion and apply it to a landscape that they felt fit it. 

Sommer B. - Peaceful

Lane H. - Peaceful

John S. - excited

Sidney H. - Peaceful

Abbie B. -Sad

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