Help me teach art to kids.

whitey9whitey9 Registered User
edited December 2007 in Artist's Corner
I've been hired as a replacement 'artist in residence' for a local elementary school. I had a plan to teach a bunch of different photography things but at the last minute, they canceled photography and told me to pick another subject.

I've taught art to kindergarteners for years now, but they're moving me up to first grade as my 'focus grade', meaning that I have to work with them an hour a day for a week, where I only get to work with all of the other classes [K-5] once.

I have a handful of ideas floating around, and I could easily teach the same lesson to all of the grades, but I want to mix it up. There really are no restrictions, but for ideas, I like to look towards art history. Last year, I taught a couple kindergarten classes Jackson Pollock, then they got to work on a big canvas with ketchup bottles full of paint. I've taught Andy Warhol by letting the kids fill in a two-tone image of their teacher (a celebrity to them) with crazy colors. I'm thinking I might do some Lichtenstein with the older kids, or maybe life drawing, but I'm not sure how to, or whether it would even resonate.

Does anybody have ideas on what artists that would work, and possible ways to replicate their style? Think paint/pencil/paper, not clay or sculpture (not my choice, theirs).

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Posts

  • no_toastno_toast Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I've been teaching at upper secondary/high scool level. I think you should try experimenting and just see the expressions on the kids' faces. I once did stencils with some kids and just a few weeks ago a kid came to talk to me and said he'd been doing all sorts of stencil work in his free-time too.

    And also, you should really read the rules. No need for new thread --> Questions/Discussion/Chat

    no_toast on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I wish I could teach. Damn degrees and such.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • RusticCreatureRusticCreature Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Let me tell you something: there is absolutely no reason, none whatsoever, for this perception that kids can't learn to draw. I honestly wish I could have had the advantage of an art teacher who would teach me the fundamentals of art at an early age, because the concepts that are most important are so simple and, unfortunately, usually the last to be learned.

    Stop with the crafts. That Jackson Pollock thing with the ketchup bottles? I'm sure that's fun for these kids, and that's the sort of thing that nurtures their love of art, which is a good thing. But it teaches them nothing. And, forgive me for saying this, but art history is boring as hell: Especially for kids. Stick with teaching them only the fundamentals of drawing so that they can get the ability to take their love of art (and yes, they all love art. All kids doodle constantly) and turn it in to some sort of tangible skill.

    I feel unqualified to suggest actual lesson plans, but the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a fantastic tool for beginners. I might suggest you look towards it for ideas and to adapt its lessons to facilitate the needs of a much younger audience.

    Edit: I think my post feels confrontational, but I assure you I wasn't trying to be. I just think it's a shame that the simplest and most important concepts aren't taught until the highschool and college levels.

    RusticCreature on
  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Let me tell you something: there is absolutely no reason, none whatsoever, for this perception that kids can't learn to draw. I honestly wish I could have had the advantage of an art teacher who would teach me the fundamentals of art at an early age, because the concepts that are most important are so simple and, unfortunately, usually the last to be learned.

    Stop with the crafts. That Jackson Pollock thing with the ketchup bottles? I'm sure that's fun for these kids, and that's the sort of thing that nurtures their love of art, which is a good thing. But it teaches them nothing. And, forgive me for saying this, but art history is boring as hell: Especially for kids. Stick with teaching them only the fundamentals of drawing so that they can get the ability to take their love of art (and yes, they all love art. All kids doodle constantly) and turn it in to some sort of tangible skill.

    I feel unqualified to suggest actual lesson plans, but the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a fantastic tool for beginners. I might suggest you look towards it for ideas and to adapt its lessons to facilitate the needs of a much younger audience.

    Edit: I think my post feels confrontational, but I assure you I wasn't trying to be. I just think it's a shame that the simplest and most important concepts aren't taught until the highschool and college levels.

    I totally agree. The Jackson Pollock painting is more than just spraying paint. The idea, well, my idea, is that they will be more accepting of strange things if they're introduced to it at a younger age. My art history lesson is this: artists that are famous are that way because they've done something different. The end. I don't go into dates, hell, I don't even care if they remember the artist's name. Then we talk about complementary colors, color families, the color wheel, how different line shapes and colors can evoke different emotions.

    Crafts bring the kids nothing, this I know, but if you talk to any of my kids from a couple years ago, they fucking 'get it'. I taught them all in kindergarten and I have them come up to me with drawings they did in second grade saying "I did it with red and black because I wasn't in a very good mood", and that's about as fundamental as it gets.

    People draw at a level that they're comfortable with, but everybody stops drawing at around 4th or 5th grade because they cease to see progress. Until then, they're making huge leaps and bounds through self exploration, which I try to encourage with my classes. Past that point, 90% of people will need assistance in the form of drawing exercises like those found in "Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain". That's probably why I'll do a life drawing or anatomy basics class with the 5th graders.

    For other grades, think fundamentals. Like.. day one shit. Pretend that these kids have never had an art class ever, because most of them haven't.

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  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Maybe introduce the kids to Sargent instead of Pollock or Picasso. Maybe then we will have a generation of real artists who want to work hard to accomplish something instead of doing random shit, crossing their fingers and hoping they get lucky.

    This isn't really a jab at you though I am sure it seems like one. But when I was growing up we had some programs that got me started down the very wrong path, and if I had not been incredibly lucky I probably wouldn't get to do the things I love to do today.

    I definately think you should try to push some fundamentals into their brains. Though the Pollock thing you did does sound like fun, even to me.

    rts on
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  • GreatnationGreatnation Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Maybe introduce the kids to Sargent instead of Pollock or Picasso. Maybe then we will have a generation of real artists who want to work hard to accomplish something instead of doing random shit, crossing their fingers and hoping they get lucky.

    thats seething with fail. fail fail fail.

    im down for this discussion, but I dont want to highjack this thread...


    /edit
    it's hard to go wrong with a guy who did little else than splatter color all over his canvas

    !!!

    Greatnation on
  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    cakemikz wrote: »
    Maybe introduce the kids to Sargent instead of Pollock or Picasso. Maybe then we will have a generation of real artists who want to work hard to accomplish something instead of doing random shit, crossing their fingers and hoping they get lucky.

    This isn't really a jab at you though I am sure it seems like one. But when I was growing up we had some programs that got me started down the very wrong path, and if I had not been incredibly lucky I probably wouldn't get to do the things I love to do today.

    I definately think you should try to push some fundamentals into their brains. Though the Pollock thing you did does sound like fun, even to me.

    I'm certainly not trying to push them down the wrong path. I didn't get interested in art at all until I graduated from high school due to the way it was taught (same with science, politics, etc), but you can't teach drawing fundamentals to a five year old because he's just not their yet. If I did the Pollock thing with anybody over the age of 6, I'm just wasting their time because they get nothing out of it.

    6 year olds can't draw well for the same reason they can't dribble a basketball like an adult. Their brain won't let them. They are still forming all of these connections, and a lot of the necessary ones just aren't their yet. Draw a simple object, like the shape of a paperclip. Then have a 6 year old draw the same thing, but tell them to draw it much bigger. They will struggle with that much more than you could ever imagine, and no amount of practice will fix that.

    I believe the correct path starts with art fundamentals: why art could make you happy, sad, use of colors and line, how colors work (yellow + blue = green). They don't know any of that, and you can't get more fundamental than the extreme basics. Most of these kids have never had an art class ever. Once that's established and totally cohesive to them (around age 7), then you can move on.

    I'm going to teach a face drawing class to the fifth graders, I've decided, and try some basic shading.

    I know what to teach to the little guys, and the older kids, but what type of fundamentals are their for the intermediate? I honestly have no idea because it was never taught to me. I only get a week, and I want to cram information into that time that will remain with them for as long as their interested in art.

    250px-Sargent%2C_John_SInger_%281856-1925%29_-_Self-Portrait_1907_b.jpg

    This is beyond them. And me.
    I hate Pollock as well, but if you're going to teach color, and only color, it's hard to go wrong with a guy who did little else than splatter color all over his canvas

    whitey9 on
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  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    it's hard to go wrong with a guy who did little else than splatter color all over his canvas

    !!!

    What?

    If you really want to get into it, you can say that he had fractals in his work, and that he was the personification of hip art in a time when America was viewed as the squarest place on the planet, giving us an edge in the Cold War, but you'd have to believe all of that.

    Sorry, bigger issue at hand, HOW TO TEACH ART TO THE FUTURE OF AMERICA! What would you have liked to learn at the very beginning!

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  • bombardierbombardier Moderator mod
    edited December 2007
    I've seen a few examples of when young children are taught to draw what they see and not what they think they see. It's not any different than learning it when you're 5 or 15 or whatever. I would at least take the opportunity to let them know about how to properly observe and draw something, because most people never stumble upon that without someone teaching them in some way.

    bombardier on
  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    bombardier wrote: »
    I've seen a few examples of when young children are taught to draw what they see and not what they think they see. It's not any different than learning it when you're 5 or 15 or whatever. I would at least take the opportunity to let them know about how to properly observe and draw something, because most people never stumble upon that without someone teaching them in some way.

    Great idea, I want to try that some way with the first or second graders. I've used that 'drawing upside down' technique before, probably will again, same with the silhouettes. Are their others?

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  • bombardierbombardier Moderator mod
    edited December 2007
    I was thinking the drawing upsidedown thing with simple large shapes that do actually look like something might best demonstrate that you're not full of hot air and they will see their results are really cool and go from there.

    bombardier on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Yeah an upside-down using big shapes drawing exercise would be awesome. You could even give it to them in phases. Dont even show them what they are drawing. Give them a handout with three big shapes that are overlapping and tell them to copy it. And then hand them the next one that breaks each of the shapes down a little more. Maybe 4 handouts in they have something resembling a dog. Dont even explain to them what they are doing. They will think about it too much. Eventually they will figure it out, and it may just get through to them what thinking in big shapes is all about before they ever even have the chance to start thinking in symbols.

    Damnit I want to teach. What is the easiest way to acquire a masters degree?

    rts on
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  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    edited December 2007
    Good for you for actually wanting to teach art as a class and not a 'fun-time playtime distraction period'.

    You've already said you want to avoid 'crafts'. GOOD. I can specifically recall in 6th or 7th grade one of the all-too-rare "art periods" involved gluing googly-eyes and a feather onto a clothespin to make some cutesy (in retrospect, possibly racist caricature) Native Americans. I recall this specifically because that's the point where I gave up all hope that "art class" was not synonymous with "waste of time". So please, for the love of God, don't do that shit.

    I can't say much as how to approach the teaching itself (I am not a teacher and I've been out of elementary school for a long, long time), but if it were me I would probably be sure to cover:
    Basic Perspective (vanishing points are not hard stuff, seriously guys)
    Construction (Cubes, Cylinders + Spheres)

    For construction, you might look at these Glen Vilppu tutorials
    http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=search&sval=vilppu&article_no=402
    http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=search&sval=vilppu&article_no=440
    , or check out How to Draw the Marvel Way or Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation. Not the most academic tomes on drawing, but it may or may not help to learn some of these basic principles with superheros and cartoons rather than trying to force them to get real excited about, say, Baroque paintings. Admittedly, these books share some similarilty with all their cheaper knockoffs which usually just end up confusing kids by dumbing it down too much ("1. Draw a circle 2. Then an oval 3. Now it's a dog!"), but if taught in a way to give a context to what they are doing, and show how these principles function as tools to create believable volumes rather than presented as a rote step-by-step, they could be useful.

    Betty Edwards is good, life drawing and observation is good, but to be honest I have no idea whether or not you'll be able to get a majority share of a class to get real excited about it (of course, if this were any other class, the teacher would just be able to say "I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE INTERESTED YOU'RE GONNA LEARN IT DAMMIT", and while personally I think that would be awesome I can't say how that tactic would play out in practice).

    Of course, owing to the fact that I've not once seen an art class at any level begin with all students on an even level of skill, (and I fucking hate the "natural talent" argument believe it or not) you'll probably get a few kids that you could throw just about any of this stuff at and they'd just eat it up- it'd be awesome for them. But then it becomes a question of whether you should be designing a class for the majority to excel in, or for those few to excel in (in theory, this is how any class is supposed to work- excellent students get A's, average students C's, etc. whatever. Unfortunately, you may have a hard time keeping you job if you have a bunch of bitchy parents whining to the administration about why their dear little Suzie is getting a C in 3rd grade art class).

    I AM STILL SOMEWHAT BITTER AT MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ART CLASSES SUCKING SO GODDAMNED MUCH SO TAKE MY ADVICE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.


    ps: If anyone that used to go to/taught at my school is out there, I want you to know I still think I should have won that 5th grade poster contest because mine was the only one with fucking perspective. I don't care if the winning entry had a "more Christian message" or whatever the hell the reason it won was, it fucking blew and both you and I know it.

    Angel_of_Bacon on
  • GreatnationGreatnation Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I dont see whats stopping anyone from having a comprehensive all encompassing art education, even at a young age. Learn from Betty Edwards, and talk about Sargent. But that doesnt mean not also talking about Pollock or any other modern artist. You are crippling yourself if you ignore any part of art history as a potent source of learning.

    Teaching the importance of Pollock doesnt have to be "yay fun splatter paint!" Teach it like poetry. Talk about it, dont just do it.


    Boggles my mind that anyone would willinging blow off one of the three most imfluential artists in the past century.

    Greatnation on
  • RusticCreatureRusticCreature Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I AM STILL SOMEWHAT BITTER AT MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ART CLASSES SUCKING SO GODDAMNED MUCH SO TAKE MY ADVICE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.


    ps: If anyone that used to go to/taught at my school is out there, I want you to know I still think I should have won that 5th grade poster contest because mine was the only one with fucking perspective. I don't care if the winning entry had a "more Christian message" or whatever the hell the reason it won was, it fucking blew and both you and I know it.
    Oh man. That reminds me of something similar that happened at my highschool.

    We had some sort of "door decorating" contest and one of my teachers asked me to do something for it. So I said I'd come up with something over the weekend. I spent my entire weekend working on this thing in photoshop. I even found a program that would allow you to print large images on several sheets of paper, and what I ended up with was a [sic] highly detailed drawing of a Bruin and a Viking(our school's mascot and rival) that would cover the door (I posted the finished piece here a very long while ago).

    But apparently my idea wasn't what my teacher wanted. I guess she didn't like the fact that the vikings helmet didn't have horns or whatever. So, instead of asking me to change it, she decides to make something herself with clipart. clipart. It looked fucking terrible and a was sure my piece would have won. I was pretty bitter about the whole thing.

    RusticCreature on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Boggles my mind that anyone would willinging blow off one of the three most imfluential artists in the past century.

    We should have another thread for debating this.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • GrifterGrifter BermudaModerator mod
    edited December 2007
    cakemikz wrote: »
    Boggles my mind that anyone would willinging blow off one of the three most imfluential artists in the past century.

    We should have another thread for debating this.

    Like the chat thread.

    Grifter on
  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I dont see whats stopping anyone from having a comprehensive all encompassing art education, even at a young age. Learn from Betty Edwards, and talk about Sargent. But that doesnt mean not also talking about Pollock or any other modern artist. You are crippling yourself if you ignore any part of art history as a potent source of learning.

    Teaching the importance of Pollock doesnt have to be "yay fun splatter paint!" Teach it like poetry. Talk about it, dont just do it.


    Boggles my mind that anyone would willinging blow off one of the three most imfluential artists in the past century.

    Just because I don't like Pollock personally doesn't mean I don't speak about him with a great deal of passion. I taught Warhol as a guest presenter to a kindergarten class, and the teacher came up to me afterwards, amazed that I liked him that much. I don't. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or say that it wasn't important, culturally. I don't blow any artist off, nor do I say "YOU HAVE TO LIKE IT OR YOU'RE STUPID AND UNCULTURED". I talk about why it was relevant, and I ask them if they like it. If they don't, that's fine, if they do, that's fine too. But it's ridiculous to expect kids to recall the cultural relevance later, because I honestly don't care. If I teach math to a fifth grader, I might touch on Newton's life, but is it my primary focus? Absolutely not. I don't think that a third grader needs to have a significant appreciation of art history to advance his learning. Some couldn't hurt, but considering the amount of time I get, it's on the back burner.

    This isn't my primary teaching job, I usually just work with kindergarteners in an academic way, but nobody is ever willing or able to teach art (not crafts) so I volunteer my time frequently.

    Their are no grades for this, it's a privilege for the kids to come to the class, so it's not like I'm forcing kids to do it. I've loved all of the ideas I've seen so far, they all seem to revolve around them gaining confidence in their abilities, which is huge to someone at that age. I want them to want to create by giving them the tools to do so.

    the_more_you_know.jpg

    whitey9 on
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  • GreatnationGreatnation Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I wasnt trying to harp on yas, that comment was more directed to cake. Good to see you have your head in the right place anyways though.

    Greatnation on
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