Secondary Student Teaching: Week 5

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Preparing for Tempera Still-Life Painting

When preparing the students to create a composition for a painting or drawing, it is important that they understand some important rules of creating a successful composition.  A good starting place is discussing what a composition is and how the student should apply the Rule of Thirds.Composition:  The placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art or a photograph, as distinct from the subject of a work.

Rule of Thirds:  A guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as paintings, photographs and designs. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

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In most cases at the high school level, students have a hard time grasping the concept of the composition and how to apply the Rule of Thirds.  The best strategy I have found is to have students draw at least two thumbnails to get the general layout of the objects.

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A thumbnail drawing is a small sketch, which helps to plan the composition, or arrangement of the still-life objects. Examples of students’ thumbnails for the Tempera Still-life Assignment in my Art One class are found throughout this post.  In addition, these thumbnail drawings are a good pre-assessment tool for the final product of the tempera painting.  The thumbnails pre-assess whether the students can create a successful composition using the rule of thirds, which is one of the three objectives of the assignment.

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After the students sketch the two thumbnail drawings, and the teacher approves a certain composition, the teacher should have clear objectives or expectations for the assignment. As a result, in the beginning of class I had the students take notes on what I am looking for in the assignment, so they know the objectives they need to accomplish. In the picture below is the chart that I had student write on the same piece of paper as their thumbnail drawings.  During the lecture of the objectives for the tempera still-life assignment, we also had a class review of vocabulary and art elements/principles that relate to prior knowledge from past assignments.

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Some prior knowledge from past assignments (that I have blogged about in the past) are:

1) Raccoon Skull drawing (value)

2) Value worksheets

3) Connecting the prior knowledge of surface contour drawing to application of paint with value on a surface of an object.