The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
How do artists plan, problem-solve, and execute their art?
The Essential Question that guided our project was all about the creative process. A primary goal was for students participating in the art classes to develop their abilities, have fun, and build confidence in their ability to make art. The classes are four weeks long so that students have time to learn new skills and then apply them to a completed final project. Students demonstrated accomplishment in the following areas:
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
What did you like most about this project?
“It was worth it in the end” Lisa, age 9, Math in Art
“It increased my LOVE for art” Allison, age 12, Drawing for Beginners
“I liked the fact that I got time to draw” Emma, age 9, Drawing for Beginners
“I liked learning new techniques” Amara, age 11, Drawing for Beginners
“Learning how to draw a person” Mason, age 10, Monsters
“Making it with my friend and putting it together” Gabbi, age 5, Abstract ArtWhat feeling or idea did you want to express with your work?
“Feeling the greatness in my art. One piece of my soul was in every sketch” Allison, age 12, Drawing for Beginners
“I wanted to express what I love to do in my drawing” Abigail, age 9, Drawing for Beginners
“I felt like I wanted everything to be creepy” Mason, age 10, MonstersWhat did you find most difficult about this project?
“[Probably] using a ruler because in my math class in school rulers hate me” Ezri, age 9, Math in Art
“Putting the notebook under the table and drawing the squirt bottle” (blind drawing exercise) Abigail, age 9, Drawing for Beginners
“I found making very intricate detailed things hardest” Amara, age 11, Drawing for Beginners
“I had to make it perfect” Shanna, age 8, Abstract Art
One of our favorite moments happened when two brothers came to a class mostly against their will. Their mother thought they should be exposed to some art and signed them up for a class we had that focused on Japanese art. The first class they sat in the back, finished early and in spite of being given several choices of what they could work on, decided to just wait until class was over. The second week they came we were doing brush and ink paintings. The oldest boy happened to love bamboo, and had never heard of painting with ink. He was really having a fun time, and the little brother followed his brother’s lead and they both ended up having a good time. The next week they both came in excited to work on the next project and even helped get out supplies and when class was over they were both eager to show their mom what they had done. These are kids that will probably not spend a lot of time doing or learning about art in the future, but they had a good experience with the class and their eyes were opened to some new possibilities.
The biggest effect we have is in opening children’s eyes to new possibilities. Some have had little experience with art in their lives (little is taught in most schools in our area). To watch them learn to solve problems as they find new ways to do art is exciting. One of the biggest eye openers we have seen is a child finding confidence to try new things. One who said she only knew how to draw cats tried a landscape and loved it. Some who have never used pastels learn how to mix colors with them. Some with more experience learn the process of sketching, critiquing, working, and critiquing. There is work involved in making art and many of our older kids have learned that.
The one thing that we would recommend to others if they are working with kids and art is to keep the initial instructions simple and then help the kids solve problems as they come up. Lay out the goal of a project in just a few instructions or a brief concept and then reinforce it as the children work. For example, if the project involves mixing colors – tell them to mix any two colors and see what happens, rather than detailing exactly what to mix and what to expect. Kids need some instruction, but also they need freedom to explore within the parameters that we set.