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Submitted by: Andy DiConti, La Canada High School - See Andy's blog.
Unit: Design - Focus Down Composition - Science Integration - Color blending
Lesson Plan: Circular "Mandala" - colored pencil
Grade Level: 6 - 12
Alternate Lesson: Non-Objective Design by Susan Camin - High School
Viewfinders - (cut from 4" (10 cm) scrap white paper and Compasses), X-acto Knife or sharp Scissors, Drawing Pencils, Magic Rub Erasers, Colored Pencils, White Drawing Paper 80# (12" [30 cm] square), 1" transparency grids, 10" circle templates, Construction Paper frames (or circular Mat board), Newsprint (cut to 12" [30 cm] square), Tape, Saral Transfer Paper, Rulers
The student will be able to create a nonobjective design from a magazine photo (or personal photograph) using a view finder. The composition will use the Principles of Design and will be enlarged to 10" (25.4 cm) in diameter circle. By using colored pencils the drawing will use layers to recreate the colors in the magazine picture.
Find beauty in unsuspected places - (suggest nature images)
Enlarge a photograph - develop observational skills - use grid to enlarge
Develop skills in using colored pencils.
Reflections - Automotive Focus down nature
Assorted magazines - National Geographics are good sources - nature magazines - Note: car magazines may motivate boys.
Alternative: Students take their own photographs of nature from around the school yard - looking for beauty.
Artist: Georgia O'Keeffe (focusing down on what is beautiful) Show PowerPoint of Georgia O'Keeffe's more abstract flower compositions.
Book: Georgia O'Keeffe: Flowers in the Desert - This volume traces the career of American painter, Georgia O'Keeffe. The illustrations document the most important periods in her life, including flowers.
Note: This lesson can be done with circles - squares - rectangle - and kind of viewfinders - and any final composition size.
1. Review the Five Modes of Design - Use examples of each and show them the progression
1. Naturalism - (photo realistic)
2. Realism - (representational)
3. Stylized - (simplification of details)
4. Abstraction - (distortion and overlapping to create new shapes)
5. Nonobjective- (no recognizable object, elements producing the principles of design
(These five modes were copied from a Getty TeacherArtExchange list serve post by Ken
2. Discuss the elements and principles of design. Give examples and use non-objective design to show the principles of good composition. Discuss what a non-objective design is and why they are produced. Critique examples.
3. Review use of viewfinder and aid students in selecting appropriate images.
4. Demonstrations of layering technique using colored pencils.
5. For Science integration: Demonstrate/review proper use of microscope. Use video/TV hook up if available.
This is a project focuses down on a photograph to make a nonobjective composition. Nonobjective is the type of design that is full of colors, shapes, lines, values, forms, textures, using the principles of design to make a composition that has NO recognizable subject or objects. It instead relies on the elements and principles of design to create a balanced interesting composition having a center of interest, directional movement, rhythmic shapes, variety of size, balance of values and colors.
By using a paper finder (whether it be circle - square - rectangle - or even triangle) students look for and find a composition to render with colored pencil. Each composition must have the principles of good design and a use of color. The pencil will be applied with layers creating a smooth blend of colors - duplicating what is in the viewfinder window as much as possible. (teacher prep - Cut some scrap white paper into 4" squares for students to make view finders)
Note from Judy: This is how I had planned to use this lesson. My lesson title was "Under the Microscope" Students take their own nature photographs - focusing on pattern in nature - look around the school yard - or they can take photograph themselves at home. Students will become more aware of plants (insects and animals) in their surroundings. Some interesting plants could be borrowed from a local nursery/floral shop to photograph for those who do not bring in their own photographs. As a back up - I planned to have a bunch of patterns in nature already pulled from magazines. We would further "zoom in" on some of the plant life using the microscope... looking for plant cells (and look at fish scales - from a previous lesson). Students would draw what they see under the microscope and incorporate some of the patterns in their focus down drawings if they choose. I got this idea for "focus down composition" first from Jaye Bumbaugh, Bluffton College, in summer of 1969.
Eye of Science- Images under the microscope. Site by Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa. Using electron microscopy and other equipment and techniques, the pair has created fine images of such things as parasites, cross-sections of a lavender leaf, and more. Great inspirations for an art project! Permission has been granted for Art Teachers to use these images with students (low resolution images only - for in class/educational use).
Shown is Xanthoria Parietina - a Lichen
Botany Photo of the Day- different high-quality photograph every day, complete with background information. Visitors can also view the site's archives, which date back to April 2005 and browse previously featured photographs, which are divided into categories. Art teachers have permission to use these photographs for this purpose.
1. Make a 2 inch circle with a compass on a piece of paper (white drawing paper scraps pre-cut to 4" square). Make several to "test" different compositions. Cut out the circles using an X-acto knife on a cutting board. Small scissors could also be used for safety. (You may have student make different size circle if you choose)
2. Look in magazines (or photographs) for interesting shapes, colors, contrast of values, variety of sizes, and interesting area off center, gradations of colors and values. Still make sure that you can’t really see what the picture is. Look for a composition with the finder over the picture that reveals a good design. Place the finder over the picture so that it will be showing the composition through the circle and blocking out the rest. Find at least 3 that you feel are good. Tape the finder over it and save.
3. After a small critique, select one that is the best and enlarge it to newsprint with a grid. The circle will be 10" in diameter. Use a circle template 10" wide (or a compass set to 5" radius) and on a 12" square newsprint paper, make a circle. Find the middle and draw a line dividing it in both directions making a cross in the middle. Fold the circle in half (open and draw line with ruler) - then open and fold in half the other direction - draw line with ruler. Lay one inch grid transparency over smaller picture dividing the circle in half (or draw grid using ruler)
4. Enlarge the most important lines by using the grid as a way of keeping good proportion. You may further divide the larger grin and smaller grid if necessary (divide each larger block into 4ths). When finished with the enlarging -- Use Seral graphite paper to transfer to good drawing paper 80# to make the final drawing. Use a precut 10" circle template to draw a light circle around the transferred composition. (If you do not have Seral Transfer paper - use graphite on back of newsprint).
6. Observe the demonstration on layering the pencil to produce different colors and values. Use white pencil to blend layers together. Practice using soft light layers of colored pencils to achieve soft gradations and different colors. Always start with the lightest colors first and then go to the darker ones. Colorless blenders or white pencils will help blend layers together. Practice the colors you need on the side of the paper outside the circle.
7. Select colors that will be used - continue drawing - laying colors to match the photograph. The goal is to duplicate the colors as close as possible. What combination of colors will give the results found in the photograph? Use scrap paper first to try colors. Close observation is the important - students will be evaluated on their observation skills/skill in enlarging/scale drawing - value shading - and color selections. Note this lesson could also be used for a black and white value scale drawing.
8. Note from Judy - Presentation: Cut a 10" circle from larger colored construction paper (12" square or larger). I found it easy to just cut a number of circles myself - all at the same time from some basic colors and let the students choose. You can have them cut themselves. Middle school students may need a couple tires to get a circle you will be happy with. They may tend to rush the circle cutting..... just a warning to you. Put a few SMALL dots of glue in the negative space on the drawing paper - towards the sides - not too close to the circle - spread glue. Gently line up the construction paper circle with circle drawing to mat. If you have a circle mat cutter - circular mats would be a nice professional look.
Note from Andy: The next time he does this lesson, he plans to do it on reflections - all focus down automotive photographs. See Cars Series photographs by Scott Matyjaszek
1. Did student effectively employ the elements and principles of design in creating a non-objective work of art? Did students effectively use grid to transfer scale drawing from viewfinder to larger drawing paper?
2. Did student employ layering technique with colored pencils to duplicate the colors and textures of a magazine image visible through a view finder. Did student enlarge the shapes, colors, and textures to fill a 10" or 11" circle. (Bunki Kramer used a 10" circle - Ken Schwab used an 11" circle)
Alternate Lesson Idea: "Signs of the Times"
Summary: Take pictures - or have your students take pictures of signs in your community. Print off the photographs and use view finders to crop the photo to find an interesting composition. Resulting image can be used for colored pencil rendering, painting or print. Use the art of Robert Cottingham for inspiration.
Robert Cottingham - Eyeing America: This online presentation features essays, some work from various cities across the country and 70 prints from the museum collection