Great Art Lessons for the Creative Soul
Many years ago, I taught art at an elementary school which served 800 students in grades K-5. The students were talented and enthusiastic about art. One of the extra-curricular art programs that I set up was called the Graphic Arts workshop. During one prep hour each week, I allowed 3-5 students to come and work in the art studio on graphic arts projects. I allowed teachers to select talented art students in grades 3-5 to work on posters, fliers, banners, and programs for school related activities. Some students created items on the computer while others created banners. In the picture below, a student is working on a D.A.R.E. display for an awards program. For the last several posts we have shared ideas about how to create great extra-curricular art programs. A Graphic Arts workshop is a great idea that can be used on any grade level.
Another great idea for developing an outstanding extra-curricular program, is to provide a workshop for art students from another school to visit and work with the art students on a project at your school.We created an animation workshop to give some of the middle school art students in our district an opportunity to preview the animation class that our school provided. It also allowed the middle school art students to interact with high school art students in a positive environment.
First, we contacted the middle school art teacher to see if she would be interested in bringing her students to this kind of workshop. After she eagerly said "Yes!", we set up a date and time for her to bring over 2-3 of her art classes.
Each group rotated through three different spaces that were set up with animation related activities. In one classroom the middle students were introduced to Macromedia Director by the high school students. Each middle school student partnered with a high school student. The second activity was in the school art gallery. In the gallery, we set up a display of character illustrations, storyboards and videos of flipbooks created by high school art students. The middle school students created an original character and simple storyboard in the art gallery. In the last classroom space, the visiting students created a simple flipbook. Each activity lasted one hour and the students had a great time. All of the students got along well and the middle school art teacher enjoyed the "field trip" experience that we provided for her students.
In our second installment of great extra-curricular programs, I want to focus on a program that we created to connect art students with professional artists. One year, I thought it would be fun to have professional artists come in and speak to our students about what it's like to live and work as an artist in the "real world". I started by looking for artists on the internet and thinking about professional artists that I personally knew.
After composing a list of potential speakers, I e-mailed and called many of them. I was surprised at the number of artists who were willing to speak to our students for free. We then created a three day seminar in which artists came in and spoke to our students for 30 minutes followed by a Q & A session. The artists ranged from a fiber artist to an automotive illustrator to a graphic artist. Some artists bought in actual examples of their work while others used slideshows. One of the artist, who is an abstract painter, invited students to come and paint random strokes and colors on a canvas; the final painting is shown below.
The students really enjoyed meeting and learning about the artists as well as taking a break from the normal class routine. We also provided lunch for the artists and took time to learn about their creative backgrounds. At the end of the series, the students wrote a short essay about what they learned and which artist inspired them the most. This idea is perfect for the art educator who has a limited budget but wants to expose their students to the art community in their local area. Moreover, it's a program that can be tailored to fit any grade level and schedule. Let us know if you are doing something like this in your local school.
One of the best ways to create an amazing art program at your school is to facilitate and offer an extra-curricular art program. Throughout my years in the classroom, I created a variety of extra-curricular programs for students who expressed a strong interest in visual art. The next several posts will briefly highlight some of these programs and hopefully inspire you to create one for the students at your school.
Earlier in my teaching career, I was fortunate to teach at a high school that had an arts academy. I loved working with the students and staff at that school. While the school did not offer a fashion class in the curriculum, one of the senior students asked me to work with her in developing a fashion illustration portfolio for college. Having studied fashion illustration and some basic sewing experience, I enjoyed working with her; this also inspired me to create and offer an after school fashion club.
I began by placing fliers aroung the school to see if any other students might be interested in joining the fashion club. While the first meeting had a large turnout, only 10 students were able to consisitently commit to the club. This was perfect because, it allowed me to be able to work with each student individually.
The club was offered once a week for an hour after school.The students were required to maintain at least an overall g.p.a. of 2.5 in their classes, maintain good behavior, and attend a majority of the meetings. We had so much fun learning about basic fashion terms, major designers, and styles.
The students learned how to create original fashion illustrations and picked names for their design concepts.
It was so exciting watching the students bring their designs to life by creating the actual garments they illustrated. After taking them to a local fabric store and teaching them about choosing the right fabrics for their ideas, each student created three outfits. They also learned how to read and alter a basic sewing pattern.
The program culminated with a student produced fashion show in the spring. The students advertised, decorated the space and invited family, staff members and friends to attend the show. We were fortunate to have an actual gallery space in that school and used it to display the student's fashion illustrations. The students also supplied hors d'oeurves for the guests. The visual art department received accolades from the staff, administration and community. The most rewarding part for me though, was seeing, the pride and joy on the students faces.
Alicia L. McDaniel
Alicia L. McDaniel is the author and creator of Great Art Lessons for the Creative Soul. She is also an educator, professional artist, and lover of the arts.
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