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Overlapping objectives.

Time allotment is critical when planning a structured curriculum. Best laid plans must often be set aside by unexpected surprises. The desire to cover specific materials, processes, and/or techniques often requires creative adaptation. Sometimes, we are fortunate and an unexpected disaster turns into a triumph.

Time is a difficult dimension to judge. An assignment given one week in a plan book may turn into a month's work load. When this happens, adjustments must be made for the balance of the year's activities. Elimination, overlapping or combining of events or activities will often solve the time crunch problem and may result in more successful outcomes. A recent time problem called for a change in my planning calendar. Not wanting to remove any concepts, I decided to combine several lessons that I had planned to present and develop individually into a single problem.

The concepts I wanted to cover included: shading through a tempera paint technique; perspective through overlapping of shapes, and; symmetrical and asymmetrical placement of shapes.

Preliminary exercises gave the students the opportunity to experiment with various processes and techniques. I requested that they combine all the concepts into one work of art, illustrating an understanding of each. Linear compositions were developed stressing an overlapping shape design. The students were to think of these linear shapes as being tubular, and they were also instructed to establish an imaginary light source creating shadows of the supposed three-dimensional shapes. The forms were to be painted with tempera, illustrating value ranges and color schemes. The students had previously experimented with all of the concepts, processes and techniques by working through a series of structured classroom exercises. The paintings were composed within a large 18" (46 cm) circular or square format. The results were impressive without being overly complicated. At the same time, they demonstrated that an academic exercise could also become a beautiful work of art. Each component of the work was an expanded exercise and the young artists met all of the objectives masterfully.

The longer we worked on this set of overlapping objectives, the more proficient we became in our vocabulary and understanding of the design concepts involved. We made a game of collecting new terms for our design notebook which were jotted on the back of the painting as they were encountered. Fifteen new terms were learned and our conversational literacy was enhanced.

Beautiful artwork can result from what may seem to start as a disaster. In this instance, my most feared dimension -- time -- turned to our advantage. Overlapping objectives speak for themselves; the results are obvious and the satisfaction tremendous. Overlapping objectives and more complex problems are the future for my curriculum.

Robert Basso teaches art at the Marie Sklodowska Curie High School, Chicago, Illinois.
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Author:Basso, Robert
Publication:School Arts
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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