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Student success with abstract art.

As a high-school art teacher who creates lessons to appeal to all skill levels and to all types of students, I have found that most students feel comfortable and confident producing abstract art.

An abstract art project can be challenging or not, depending on the objectives the teacher sets up. Most of my classes are an introductory high-school course for three-dimensional art, which is a required elective to graduate. Therefore, I teach gifted and talented students, regular education students, special-education students and severely handicapped or behavior-challenged students. An abstract sculpture is the perfect opportunity for all students to succeed.

As an introduction, I define abstract art and explain to students that many artists begin with a very complex subject and then break it down into shapes, colors, lines, etc. I give students some examples of famous artists who have created abstract sculpture to give them a reference point. Alexander Calder Noun 1. Alexander Calder - United States sculptor who first created mobiles and stabiles (1898-1976)
Calder
 (1898-1976) is an artist the students enjoy learning about since he produced very playful sculptures, especially early in his career. Obus (1972), one of Calder's stabiles, is one I routinely show students because pieces of the sculpture intersect with one another. This is a primary component of the students' abstract sculpture assignment.

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) also sculpted abstract forms, often organic. I point out to students that Noguchi often copied forms from or was inspired by nature. This, in turn, serves as a resource for those students who have trouble coming up with ideas for their own abstract sculpture. Other artists ! mention include Henry Moore Noun 1. Henry Moore - British sculptor whose works are monumental organic forms (1898-1986)
Henry Spencer Moore, Moore
 (1898-1986), especially Recumbent recumbent /re·cum·bent/ (re-kum´bent) lying down.

re·cum·bent
adj.
Lying down, especially in a position of comfort; reclining.
 Figure, Jean Arp Noun 1. Jean Arp - Alsatian artist and poet who was cofounder of dadaism in Zurich; noted for abstract organic sculptures (1887-1966)
Arp, Hans Arp
 (1886-1996) and Jacques Lipchitz Noun 1. Jacques Lipchitz - United States sculptor (born in Lithuania) who pioneered cubist sculpture (1891-1973)
Lipchitz
 (1891-1973).

After students have some background and resources to pull from, we start discussing the objectives and steps of the assignment. The abstract sculpture is made using papier-mache. Before the students begin, I set a size requirement of 10 inches and a minimum number of three pieces to the sculpture.

The students first draw out a plan. Then they construct a cardboard armature armature, in art: see sculpture.
Armature

That part of an electric rotating machine which includes the main current-carrying winding.
 using pieces of reinforced cardboard (I use the boxes our clay is shipped to us in). Students attach the pieces of cardboard together by cutting slits in some pieces so they easily slide onto other pieces. Using a hot-glue gun, students glue these seams to secure the connection.

In addition, narrow strips of cardboard that support heavier pieces will probably need extra support themselves, otherwise they will collapse from the added weight of wet newspaper. I suggest using wooden craft sticks. Later, students can papier-mache over them.

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Next, we papier-mache the cardboard armature using three layers of torn newspaper and glue paste. It is wise to apply only one layer of papier-mache during a class period or it won't dry flat and evenly. A blow dryer may also be used to expedite the process. Afterwards, students use gesso ges·so  
n. pl. ges·soes
1. A preparation of plaster of Paris and glue used as a base for low relief or as a surface for painting.

2. A surface of gesso.
 to cover the newsprint.

Following a lesson on color theory This article is about the musical alter ego of Brian Hazard; for the theory of color, see color theory

Color Theory is the musical alter ego of American singer-keyboardist-songwriter Brian Hazard.
, I ask the students to paint each piece of their sculpture in an analogous color scheme. From experience, I have noticed that students create magnificent sculptures, but turn them into something much less with mismatching colors. Instead, I ask the students to choose neighboring colors on the color wheel and a pattern painted with other colors used in the sculpture for added interest. This allows the sculpture to have unity and harmony.

Some students have a hard time understanding why an analogous color scheme is better than a bunch of colors thrown together. I use the analogy of wearing an outfit with too many colors or patterns. This definitely helps the students to understand.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For students who have disabilities, the teacher can decrease the number of pieces required for the sculpture. For gifted and talented students, the teacher can increase the number of pieces for the project and ask the students to paint different values of each color they use.

Most of my beginning high-school students have experience using papier-mache in elementary or middle school, so they already feel comfortable and confident with this medium. This student comfort level allows the teacher to introduce new concepts such as abstract art, color theory, harmony and pattern. In all, the abstract papier-mache project is a success for all students, and is a versatile project easily manipulated to suit the classroom of any art teacher.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

High-school students will ...

* understand abstract art.

* study the color wheel.

* mix and blend colors of paint.

* identify artists who have created abstract sculptures.

* understand the media and method of papier-mache.

* apply understanding of analogous colors to create unity.

* generate patterns and use them as points of interest.
MATERIALS

* Paper and pencil
* Cardboard
* Craft knives
* Scissors
* Gesso
* Hot-glue gun
  and sticks
* Paintbrushes
* Acrylic paints


Kristine Hamidou is a high-school art teacher teaching sculpture and ceramics in Rowlett, Texas Rowlett is a city in Dallas County and Rockwall County, Texas, United States. The population was 44,503 at the 2000 census.

Rowlett is a quiet upscale bedroom community near Dallas, Texas in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, located on Ray Hubbard Lake.
.
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Title Annotation:art education
Author:Hamidou, Kristine
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:793
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