Gelli Plates, monoprinting, principles, and a critique

I absolutely could not wait to try my new Gelli Plates with my Art 3 students. I not only wanted them to experiment with the plates, but I wanted them to apply knowledge of the art principles. Earlier that semester I had given a pre-test on the principles of art and the results who poor… to say the least… Art 3 is a precursor to AP Studio Art and they must understand the principles and learn to identify them. 
Voila, a lesson is born. Monoprinting, principles, and a critique
Students were reintroduced to the principles of art using many visual examples. Then, in groups, they had to decide what principle(s) the image on the screen was displaying. This promoted discussion within the group and competition amongst all groups because I said winning table would be cleaned up by me :). Not only did they have a tell me what principle was used, but had to explain how it was used. Sometimes they would even point out a principle I missed and had to explain their reasoning for that. 

Next, came the demonstration of the mono printing process. First, I showed two youtube videos on mono printing which you can find on my Printmaking Pinterest page. Then, I demoed where the materials were and how to use them. What I love most about Gelli Plates is that you could use any kind of acrylic paint and other material to "block" the paint. This excited the students more then anything because the whole process is very experimental. 
gelli arts plates
paint pallets 
pallet knives
7"x7" printing papers
scrap paper
bubble wrap
found objects
I allowed them one day of "play" so they could experiment and make some random pieces. Also, because the plates of 6"x6" I cut plenty of 7"x7" papers for them to use. 

At the end of the "play" day I introduced the project. 
They were to choose 4 principles and create a print for each. They used their sketchbooks to draw out some ideas, but many of them kept experimenting and would decide on the principle after the print was made. This was fine with me because they still had to identify the principle. So either way they were applying that knowledge. 

Finally, after the projects were complete we broke into our critique groups. Students placed a post-it next to each print to identify the principle they used and how that principle is being used. Peer critiqers were to write whether the principle was successful or not, why, and what could they have done differently. 

Overall, it was a successful project. Students learned their principles, argued their ideas, and learned mono printing. Though, I do think you need that day of play because students will want to use their own ideas more then the principles. Also, some of the "play" ones can even be used in their project because they realized they were using a principle of art. 

Relief Drawings

When I started my Art 1's on value we began with value scales using 5 different types of value: blending, stippling, hatching, cross-hatching,  and scribbling. I wanted them to see how light affects shadows and see how real value is created. So, I uncovered a lesson I hadn't taught since my student teaching year. It was extremely successful and so I decided to dust off it's cobwebs. You can find the link here on Blick's website. I only made a few modifications.

2 - 9"x12" drawing paper
stick glue
light source (we used our smart device flash lights)
1-12"x18" 80 wt drawing paper
kneaded erasers 

We began by discussing high lights and shadows, how they are created, and how we can replicate them. Then, I led students through a PowerPoint discussion on what a relief is and how the changes in value show us what is closer or farther away from us in a relief. Students were a little nervous when I told them we would be creating a relief and then using it to create a value drawing. Then I pulled out the paper and demonstrated how they could create a relief with it by manipulating the paper to make different forms. I stressed that they would have to draw all the forms they created. This stopped some students from going too over the top and encouraged others to challenge themselves. Students used one piece of 9"x12" paper as the base and the other to create the forms. Their goal was to create at least 5 different forms. This step took only one 90 minute class time. 

Once the reliefs were created I demonstrated how to use a light source to create interesting shadows. I set up a cart and used my iPhone flash light as a light source and had a student take a picture with the class iPad. You could also take the pics with a camera and use a lamp. I found that the iPhone flash light created the best variety of shadows. I explained how fill up the whole frame and position the light source to create an interesting image. 
Students with smart devices could take a picture themselves while telling me where to position the light source. I would show them 4 different angles for the light source so they could see what the shadows would do and they picked the best one. They could draw directly from their phone or I could print out the image for them. Students who didn't have smart devices used the class iPad and printed out their image. I don't have any windows or enough lights to set up around my room so this was my only option in order for everyone to have a different and unique composition. The students loved making these creative decisions. After the pictures were taken students sketched out their relief in their sketchbooks. This allowed great practice time and allowed me to over see their creative picture taking and print images.

The next day I explained how to begin the drawing by addressing proportion, space, and placement of objects. The drawing stage took two 90 minute class periods. I stress to my students to draw lightly and have a strong finished drawing before adding value.
After the drawing stage we were able to address the value. I demonstrated how to look for the darkest values first just like we did the value scales and then continue to lighten from there. We also discussed how some shadows have values that fade and others are solid. 
I could not be more proud of the results from this project. I believe it really helped students see the actual value changes in relation to light source and form. They truly do have a better understanding of light source and value changes. 


Critique Groups

I remember my first real experience with a "critique". It was freshman year of college 3D design class. The instructor had us all put our work out on the tables. We had time to walk around and inspect each piece. Then we sat back to "talk". As our piece was put on the spot, we had to explain our solution to the problem. Just when you thought you were finished with your explanation... you were far from it. Kym Dummons would stare at you like, "tell me more". She was the queen of wait time. She didn't have to say a thing, her eyes would pull more information from you. I used to think of it as intimidating, but as I took more of her classes, I realized she was giving you time to think. The same thing applied to the feed back you received from peers during the critique. Once the people who wanted to speak were done, Kym would look from person, to person, to person. I swear she would wait for 5 minutes before moving on. It's like she was summoning our thoughts from us. I learned so much from those critiques. 

I want my high school students to get as much from critiques as I did. They need to understand that the critique is not a way to "show off" their work, but to embrace it. I want them to see that it's okay to make a mistake or to see that their ideas are not stupid. I do many different kinds of critiques in my classes. Many great ideas can be found on my Critique Pinterest page, but I wanted more from my Art 3 kids. So I introduced Critique Groups. 

I divided my students into groups of 4 that were not their "table mates" and by skill level. I wanted to have at least one Advanced, proficient, and emerging student within each group. I determined their skill level based on a drawing test given the first day of class. This way they could have conversations with people that could help them and bring out their inner teacher.  I gave a copy of the critique groups to each person for them to put in their folder. Critique groups are to be implemented during certain phases of a project. For example after the drawing is done before the media and halfway through the project. 

Today's critique took place at the halfway mark. My bell ringer was to get into Critique Groups with their projects and then I explained the following: 
I told them they had 5 minutes to discuss while I monitored. If I saw people just sitting there, I would start some conversation. "What do we think about Joe's picture? What did he do well? How could he make something better?" and so on. Once they saw what I expected they were able to carry on. I also encouraged students to bring their sketchbooks just in case they wanted to show someone a technique. I heard good conversation and helpful tips. I think it uplifted those who needed uplifting and helped those that were highly skilled use their talents to help others. One group even passed the projects around the table so they could each get a good look and talk about each one. I kept the time short because this project is running a bit long, but I am loving the results thus far. 


Sketchbooks… I High School Necessity

While teaching elementary, I dreamed of using sketchbooks in class. I had seen others in the blogging world implement them successfully, but for some reason or another I could never get around to making it work. Not even in my 45 minutes of time. 

But… I knew in high school it would be different. The very first thing on my supply order for the year was sketchbooks. Our art department is very lucky to be able to charge an art fee and fundraise to have the funds we do. I was able to purchase them all. I think of the sketchbook as my textbook and here's why...

Sketchbook "pinsperations" 

Project ART-A-Day
Pinterest sketchbook page

Sketchbook Goals

Note taking / Bell Ringer Work
   At the beginning of each class I will have a Bell Ringer (something for the students to work on when they arrive and while I take attendance and basic "house cleaning" things) on the screen. Usually it is an activity that relates to the lesson or notes. I do this using PowerPoint and my projector. 
   When I give notes, I try to cram as many of our notes onto one PowerPoint slide that are easily read. I also try to keep my notes as short and simple as I can. Students have 10 to 15 minutes for Bell Ringers. If they didn't have enough time to copy notes, it's okay. The notes they needed reappear when I actually go through the PowerPoint for the day's lesson. 
   If students didn't have time to finish the activity they will need to finish it after the lesson/instruction. 
Students may trace a post-it so they can draw a picture alongside their notes. 

Cut out color wheel for Bell Ringer that is pasted into sketchbook for note taking.

All Bell Ringers are dated. Monochromatic bell ringer Pre-Assessment 
   The thing that scared me most when I was in art class was little prep for the actual project. The teacher would explain and demo during the lesson, but then hand you the paper and say, "Now let's begin." I was always scared to begin because I had had no practice. I always allow my students to practice with materials and techniques before beginning an actual project. This has worked best with color mixing and value studies with various materials. The 50 lb paper may not be best for all materials, but it works well for practice. 
   I teach by the "I do, we do, you do". First, I demo. Then, we practice together. Finally, they do it on their own in the sketchbook or go right into the project. This has been such a successful teaching method and the sketchbooks are an crucial part of it. 
   I have seen less waste for "Redo's" because of the sketchbooks. 
Pre-assessment Bell Ringer
"We do" student does while teacher demos

"You do" student practices on their own.

   Kinda the same as practice. Students experiment with color mixing and techniques. 

Grid drawing 
   Many students are leery to work BIG. So, when we begin a large sized project they may want to draw it first in their sketchbook and then use the grid system to enlarge. I will usually provide a template to trace into their sketchbook so that the sizing will be correct. 
(Sorry, somehow I managed not to get a pic of this)
   Most Bell Ringer work is a pre-asseement of sorts. I can walk around while they work and get a grasp as to who needs more work. Sometimes I am pleased to see that I don't need to spend as much time as expected on a technique if I can see that most have it. It's also a great way to document student growth. 
Color wheel and pre-assessment for color mixing

Pre-assessment for color pencil and composition

Pre-assessment for drawing and hatching
Rough Sketches and Drafts
  I require rough sketches and drafts for some projects we do as part of their grade. I may require 3 thumb nail sketches or just one to see what their idea is. This has been wonderful to help with 3D planning. 
referring to her plan

planning out designs
Notice her plan in the background

More design planning
Drawing out her painting from her draft

sketching some ideas
What Sketchbook do I use? 
   I like to use Strathmore Sketch. It has 100 sheets of 50 lb paper. Not the best for watercolor, but it will do the job. I like to have many pages so they can continue to sketch on their own. Students in Art I must leave the book in their class "mailbox". All other arts can take them home, but must have them each day as a part of a daily grade. It was the best bang for the buck.
  At the end of the semester the sketchbooks are theirs to take home. They may choose not to keep them and I will keep them for reference or repurpose them. If I don't have enough sketchbooks and I get a new student, I will tear out pages and give the old sketchbook. 

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