Students will identify and critique the work of Barbara Hepworth and Constantin Brancusi by their works as motivation for creation of a plaster sculpture. The plaster sculpture will be complete by implementing the subtractive sculpting method. Form and movement will be concentrated on because of the dominance of the two elements in Hepworth and Brancusi’s work. (See the blog on Henry Moore)
Students will distinguish that Abstract Art is reduced or simplified form from objective resources. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them (from ArtLex). The students will be able to compare the process in which famous artists have endured to emphasize form and movement.
National Standards for Visual Arts Education
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.2 Using Knowledge of Structures And Functions
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Arts & Humanities
9.2.3.A Explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work in the arts.
9.3.3.A Explain and apply the critical examination processes of works in the arts.
9.3.3.B Determine and apply criteria to a person’s work and works of others in the arts
9.3.3.E Examine and evaluate various types of critical analysis of works in the arts.
Mathematics, Language Arts, English, Social Studies
Who here knows what the word Abstract means? In what other way do you use abstraction other than Art? How do those other applications relate to the definition of Abstract? How when in mathematics do you use Abstraction? In Algebra for instance you use abstraction quite frequently. Now, in these pieces, the artist sends a clear message of what the representational form is - not the meaning or purpose. What is abstract art? How would you describe the characteristics of Abstract Art?
Present a visual on a board 20"X30" (51 x 76 cm) of samples of artwork by Barbara Hepworth and Constantin Brancusi Compare and Contrast artwork. Only name, medium and year of artwork. Discuss about the work critically within the design only of the pieces themselves. Review elements and principles of design by having the students identify in the pieces. Speak about Brancusi and his motivation from Ancient Pre-Columbian Art and other ancient civilizations. Describe the translation of realistic human figures to abstract human figures. Compare and contrast Brancusi’s reclining figure sculptures to realistic reclining figure images. Teacher notes to the students that form and movement are to two emphasized elements in both Hepworth and Brancusi’s work. In addition they will be assigned a research paper on Henry Moore learning of his life, motivation, materials he worked with, and reflection. This assignment is to reinforce abstract sculpting processes and his connection to Hepworth and Brancusi.
Hand out an informational packet of Barbara Hepworth and Constantin Brancusi in addition to two resource sheets of human figures. Present a visual board of images of figures with dynamic gestures and movement. By using tracing paper overlaid on the human figure image, demonstrate abstraction through simplification. Using the first layer of Tracing Paper, draw the gesture (line of movement) of the figure with a black permanent marker for better visibility. Once the gesture is drawn, in another color, block in the general shapes of the body’s muscles. Use a second sheet of tracing paper on top of the first; draw an abstraction using the forms of the muscles and the gesture of the movement for direction. Have some students demonstrate on the tracing paper how to do the exercise. Do not have students write down the steps while observing demonstration. Be sure to have instructions written on the board before hand. Only a part of the figure is to be used. The size of the plaster block is not suitable for a full figure abstraction. The students will identify the forms and directional movements of the gestures. After demonstration of the process, each student will use tracing paper and complete a minimum of 3 different processes of abstraction.
The teacher will review the students’ sketches for completion. Then the teacher will console with them individually of any problems that maybe foreseen. The students review information of the presentation board observations the day prior. Review verbally through discussion what the Elements and Principles of Design are and on what two elements the project is to be focused. Once the students have the design approved they are then given a demonstration of how to draw on their plaster block. Using the chalkboard to draw a top view of a block and top view of a design. Draw line parallel from the outside edge of the shapes to the edge of the top. Project the lines vertically on the side of the block. By using a pencil for measuring of proportion, draw where on the side the section of that form will be located within the projected vertical lines. If that shape has an end that is the outside edge of the plaster; it is to be marked with an X to indicate an area of not to remove material.
Once drawing is complete, the students will receive a sculpting demonstration. In the sculpting demonstration students will be shown how to use the tools supplied for them and the safety issues that are inherent of the material. First the teacher will use a screwdriver in place of a chisel and will remove material by hammering the screwdriver with a wooden, or rubber mallet. By holding the screwdriver from the medal area and not the actual handle due to risk of injury from hammer. Remind the students numerous times to always carve away from their bodies and body parts such as wrists, fingers, and knuckles.
The following tool to demonstrate in the use of the small hand rasps and the large rasps. Define what a rasp is and its purpose. Demonstrate the tools in succession of working from general to specific.
Once the demonstration is complete the students are informed of the setup and cleanup procedures per table (Each table has 2 people). In order to setup students are to bring 2 goggles, 1 size of each screwdriver, 1 type of each rasp, newspaper from their cubby, plaster block, 2 hammers, clay maquette, and their sketches to their seats. Students begin carving away material by working from general to specific. Once their period is ending within 5-7 minutes, the students then must return all of the tools and goggles to their respective areas in their appropriate bins; place their clay Maquette, plaster sculpture, and newspaper in their cubby.
During the studio time of students working on their sculptures, use one to two class periods for the students to use their knowledge of Henry Moore in a game of Jeopardy. The jeopardy game is a PowerPoint Presentation in which the students are interactive and cooperative with their peers. Have the class split into three groups total. Each group is given a distinctive type of noise mechanism to chime in. The rules of the game are for the team to choose a category and a price. The first team to chime in may answer but must say their answer in a form of a question. If the answer is in correct, not in a form of a question or no answer is given at all then that team looses that categories amount of money from their score. Whichever team wins receives a small prize of pencils.
After the game, the following class period is to return to the routine of setup, work, and cleanup for plaster sculpting. Once the deadline of the project is reached, then a critique is to be completed. For the critique each student will be given a number. They are to write their name on the back and place it in front of their sculpture at their seat. The students will be given a small group critique sheet. The students are then to be counted off into groups of 3.
Once they meet they will walk around the whole classroom and choose the piece in which best fits the questions. This will take a whole class period. The following class period the critique sheets will be distributed back to the students. The students will bring their sculptures and numbers to the middle of the classroom on the table. The class will share their responses of what piece they chose for each question. The class will discuss what they learned through their process of subtractive sculpting the materials’ properties and inherent issues. After the critique students will be given a self-reflection & assessment sheet to complete and hand in to the teacher.
Henry Moore, British, 1898-1986; Bronze Form, Bronze cast 1985, Frederick Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan. -Click on the images for full size-
A PowerPoint Presentation of Henry Moore will be given to the class. Asking the students questions about what they recall of Henry Moore from their research paper assignment. In addition each student will be given a timeline of Henry Moore’s life. The students will highlight the events that the teacher instructs them to for a future exam. Reviewing Henry Moore’s sculptures through chronological order supports the connection of the artist’s life to their work. Be sure to discuss his motivations, inspirations, and World War I in which he was a soldier. After the Henry Moore review, each student will be given a base that is approximately 3.5 x 3.5 x 2 inches (9 x 9 x 5 cm). The students are to sand the blocks to round off the edges use 30 grit to begin with then 100, and 220. For any pieces that may have holes or cracks be sure to use wood putty. Once the block is sanded and smooth paint should be distributed in Palettes and brushes. After the block is painted, the sculpture should be spray-painted bronze. After 2 coats of color spray, a lacquer clear spray should be used in order to seal the sculpture. Antique patina is achieved by applying shoe polish. The sculpture is to be hot glued to the base for completion. The sculptures are now ready to be displayed.
Teacher research and Preparation (links updated on May, 2010)
20" x 30" (51 x 76 cm) Presentation Board of Barbara Hepworth (Prints by this artist are very expensive so you might want to print up an image from the Google search)
20" x 30" (51 x 76 cm) Presentation Board of Constantin Brancusi (Prints by this artist are very expensive so you might want to print up an image from the Google search)
37" x 22" (94 x 56 cm) Presentation Board of Henry Moore
20" x 30" (51 x 76 cm) Presentation Board of
Realism Transformation into Abstraction. (See image at right above.) You can also see an example of transforming realism into abstraction on the Wikipedia page for Matisse.
Henry Moore: 1898-1986 - Often depicting human or human-like forms, Moore's sculptures, with their abstract style, brought a distinctive brand of Modernism to fine art. His cast bronze and carved marble sculptures are covered in this book.
I use a medium-sized coffee can and a bucket. I use two cans plaster, two cans Vermiculite (very fine chips), mix, and add two cans warm water into bucket. One table is covered in newspaper with 5 kids standing around the table. When the plaster starts setting up, I pour (it's like mud) out 5 piles. The kids pick up the piles in their hands quickly and make them into round balls. They set the balls on the back cabinet and wash their hands first in another bucket of water to get the chips off and then in the sink. I like this method because the kids can take their ball back to their seat while another set of students gets to form their balls. While the balls are drying (getting hard), they can hold them in their hands and feel the plaster getting clammy, cold and then WARM as the chemical reaction starts taking place with the friction of the molecules. It's a great science tie-end. All the while the other students are working on another project. I can pour for 35 kids in one 45 minute period. I've found it is also much more interesting to work from a circle than from a tradition square or rectangle. Make about 5-6 extra balls just in case.
I also save this project for when we have fairly nice weather because I take them out under a tree to do the carving so we don't have a dust-covered classroom. They also bring out their own chairs. Carvings are kept wrapped individually in newspaper while in the room so I never have any dust problems to worry about.
We carve with little Paring Knives I found on sale at Target (Wal-Mart, Kmart - like stores or restaurant supply stores... cheap)... 3 for $1. When all the carving is done, I set them high up on top of the big cabinets for 2-3 weeks to bone dry. We then sand with medium grade sandpaper. We give it a final quick-dip into a bucket of water to whisk off the final dust. Quick dry again. Paint if you want to, give it a milk rub, or seal with clear spray paint.
From Carolyn Roberts:
When I do plaster carving with my high school students, I premix the plaster and vermiculite (I use approximately 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) plaster to about ½ cup (125 ml) vermiculite... doesn't crumble so bad) into plastic bags. Students take a bag, dump into plastic bucket, add the two cups of WARM water and they stir... then pour into their plastic bag and manipulate into a ball shape.
But the best part is what's left in the bucket and we use them for the "splats". I run my hand around the bottom of the bucket and scrape up the extra plaster mixture that is beginning to harden. I take the handful and drop it onto the newsprint with a little "splat". When hardened, we use these to carve "relief flowers" and we use the little paring knives that we buy at the dollar store... either 2/$1 or 3/$1. The "flower splats" are the most popular... and they're SO beautiful!