Monday, June 29, 2015

The Search for Elements and Principles Continued

I have gotten a little further in my search for the beginnings of the elements and principles in art education. I contacted the big guys, the National Art Education Association, through their website and asked if they knew who wrote the first real list of the elements and principles. I thought for sure they would just know this and give me a date when the NAEA adopted them as their suggested standards. Instead she told me to read the work of Mary Ann Stankiewicz especially her book Roots of Art Education Practice, which is a part of the Davis Publication the Art Education in Practice Series. I purchased a used copy and have really enjoyed reading it, but it still didn't tell me exactly what I wanted to know - just part of it.

The book is really insightful laying out the history of art education, especially the who's and why's of it. I really recommend reading it if you are an art educator and especially if you are interested in the purpose of art education today. Looking into the reasons people thought an art education was important in the past really makes you question why it is important today. When art education started in the late 19th century there were ulterior motives of course: educating people to be able to do design work in the new industrial age, raising up the middle and lower classes to the morals and tastes of the upper classes, and even to create a beautiful uncluttered school setting. There were different segments with different ideas, but the elements and principles seem to come from a group of upperclassmen who were guiding much of the progress of art education: Walter Smith, John Ruskin, Henry Turner Bailey, Arthur Wesley Dow, Denman Waldo Ross , Louis Prang (Art Teaching Manual), Mark Hopkins, Joseph Torrey. Mary Ann Stankiewicz describes Hopkins and Torrey's thoughts thus: "As Hopkins explained, cultivating one mental power would tend to strengthen the rest. Similarly, cultivating sound aesthetic judgement among the better classes could improve the national taste, providing a supportive environment for American Art."

The elements and principles of art were a way for these upper-class men to find a system in the art from Western and other origins that was teachable to their schools and also the middle class. The elements and principles for some had ties to music principles and others literature.

Here are the three major people she talks about in chapter 5. She also talks about the beginning of color theory and schools but since they don't seem tied to any lists of elements and principles of art per se, I am going to leave them out here.

Louis Prang art textbooks: line, mass, color chief element. (page 89) value was kept to three shades light, dark, middle value. Influenced by Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow: line, notan (dark & light), color Dow criticized the separation of representational art and decorative art. Influenced by Japanese art.

Denman Waldo Ross: taught elite men of Harvard, focus on "scientific methods to understanding and explaining art and artistic elements and principles. "Tones (value and color), measures (the size and area of each tone), and shapes were the elements of 2-d design." (page 95)

She does mention Ruskin who had a much more solidified list in that time of the principles of art, but does not list his list or talk about him much which confuses me. Here is a link to my post about him and here is the list of his principles: Principality, Repetition, Continuity, Curvature, Radiation, Contrast, Interchange, Harmony. For an explanation of these principles click here

So I know the roots of the elements and principles, but I still don't know where our solidified list comes from. I I have a feeling it is from NAEA itself, but that is just a feeling. If anyone knows when THE LIST was written and why let me know! 

The page numbers in this post refer to pages in Roots of Art Education Practice by Mary Ann Stankiewicz. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kindergarten Color Unit

Color Unit for Kinders

We focus on learning primary and secondary colors in kindergarten and leave the color wheel until 1st grade. I absolutely LOVE this video for mixing colors by Scratch Garden The song is catchy and the kids love the weird imagery. They also talk about warm and cool colors which I don't think kinder is ready for yet. 

We do a simple worksheet the first day to make color math problems. We do one row at a time and they get a sticker if they get the row right!

Next we do 2 projects with color mixing and I play that Scratch Garden video at the beginning of every class of the unit to get it stuck in their head!

The first assignment is a simple crown inspired by a story my family and I wrote about a king who loved purple (below) We paint cyan and magenta paint in stripes, daubs etc. on a 6x8 piece of paper and let it dry. The next week we fold the paper in half  and  make a zig-zag line (vocab from line/shape unit)  across and cut while folded to get a crown. Then add some holes and glitter for jewels.

I have also done this project as a full portrait which was cute. It just depends on how much time you have.

For the other secondary colors we make a simple shield. We cut it out of 12 x 18 paper folded in half again and paint the entire thing yellow. While it is still wet, we mix in orange in 2 quadrants and blue in the other two quadrants, leaving shapes if we want. This would be great on a thicker card stock if you have it, with a handle on the back. 

Here's the story my children , husband and I wrote for the color unit!! 

The King Who Loved Purple

Once upon a time in a land far away there was a kingdom where people were happy and had all the things they needed.

The King in this land had a favorite color: purple. He thought it was the perfect color. Why would you have any other color except purple?

He loved it so much that one day he decided that he didn’t want anything in his kingdom that wasn’t purple.  His servant hung signs all around the kingdom and knocked on doors telling people to throw away anything that wasn’t purple.

When the day came people threw away so many things.

They threw away red cups, blue bowls, beige computers, and pink polka-dotted sweaters.

They threw away black computers, yellow iPods, and plaid lampshades.

They even threw away the King’s lemon-meringue-striped rainbow-checkered pajamas. Everything would not be perfect until all non-purple colors were removed!

As he was walking through his kingdom looking at everything people were throwing away he saw an old painter throwing away his paints. The painter was sad, but squirted his red paint and his blue paint in the garbage can.

But when the two paints mixed together in the can, something amazing happened. They turned into purple!

“Wait,” said the King to the painter. “How is that possible? Why did that happen?”

The painter looked at him, puzzled. “Don’t you know that purple is just red and blue mixed together?”

The King hadn’t known this, and thought about it a minute. “So, if I like purple, I really like red and blue in a way?”

“Of course.” said the painter. “You can’t have purple without red and blue. Besides, if everything is one color, then purple won’t be as special anymore.”

The king thought long and hard about this. He sort of missed his red cups, and his blue bowls. And he even missed the other colors too -- the pink iPods and the plaid lampshades. And he especially missed his lemon-meringue-striped rainbow-checkered pajamas.

The King looked at the painter. “So if we have red and blue, we can make purple any time we want?”

“Absolutely,” said the painter.

“Well,” the king said, “I suppose given that other colors make purple, it might be okay to a have a FEW things that aren’t purple…”

And so the people took back their red cups, and blue bowls. They reattached their plaid lampshades, and put back on pink-polka-dotted sweaters. And everything was the same again, except for maybe the king, who sat with the painter in his living room, mixing red and blue paints together happily and painting big purple sunsets.

While, of course, wearing his lemon-meringue-striped rainbow-checkered pajamas.


Friday, June 5, 2015

First Unit of the Year for Kindergarten

I am switching to Middle School next year and am passing my lessons down to the new primary school teacher for her to use (or not use) so I thought since I am writing them up I should put them on the blog. I'll be adding them one at a time or a unit at a time.

This is the 1st unit I do with with kindergarten, so it is pretty simple at first. The goal is to introduce them to the vocabulary they will need to draw: describing and drawing lines and shapes. We have a large ESL population so it is especially important to establish common words for the art room.

The first project is lines: straight, slanted, curved, wavy, loopy, zig-zag. This is a common project. We start out the day with reading Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman. We then draw in crayon lines across the page. This is a guided lesson and all the kids have to make each type of line, but not in the same spot. The next part is describing what a shape is: a line that closes on itself. We then paint inside the shapes with watercolor. Might as well get the paint out for the first project right?! 

The second lesson in the unit we learn about geometric shapes that have names. I show them Kandinsky's Circles and how there is one shape inside the other. We get out the tempera and paint shapes inside of shapes. I also allow them to add lines and dots in between.  It is such a simple project but they turn out really pretty. Just don't give them all the colors of paint! This is still the first month of school and for many the very first time they have gotten to use messy tempera paint! 

This is the final picture of the unit. The other two projects are very simple and a way to introduce vocabulary needed for this drawing. I explain that we are going to draw a pig (from If You Give A Pig a Pancake) using the lines and shapes we have learned. We use circles, triangles, curved lines, straight lines, and dots. Every time I do this so early in the year for a kindergartner, I am amazed at how well they do! They also enjoy making different foods for their piggy to eat!