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Unlimited Interpretations With Limited Time.

Artists interpret subjects, ideas, and thoughts by creating images with self expression.

Artists expand on what they see and know through the use of artistic media.

Developing a focused project to be completed in a limited time frame can motivate creative thinking and expression. Designed to encourage risk taking and decision making, this project was developed from the perspective of how artists take the freedom to interpret their subject and choose the media that best fits their personal expression. Any simple subject can be used for a jumping-off point to motivate visual expression.

Artistic Vision

Students will observe a simple sea shell from the beach that they are to dynamically interpret the form using any media. Begin with a discussion that shares your perspective of how and why artists use varied media for self expression. Show visual examples of a number of artists with a brief description of their form of visual interpretation. For example: Georgia O'Keeffe--abstracts through enlargement, Andy Warhol repeats subject matter, Salvador Dali--melts solid form, Rene Magritte--turns varied forms into stone, Disney--creates using animation, Picasso--distorts and restructures subjects, Andrew Wyeth--describes in detail through realism, Claude Monet--impression of how light affects form. These are just a few examples of well known artists that work two-dimensionally and whose self expression has left its mark on the world of art. Give students some thinking and reflection time to decide what media and interpretation they would like to explore.

Personal Style

After the introduction and some initial thinking time, limit the student's working time (two hours) to develop their visual interpretation of the shell form.

They should use the form of the shell as a beginning point to express their own ideas about color, form, texture, line, and subject. The work may be in any style, as the above references are merely examples and show basic diverse foundation for other artists' expression. Personal interpretation is the focus, yet students may be influenced by pre-established styles in art.

Have students choose from a variety of drawing and painting media such as colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk, charcoal, watercolor, tissue paper, and pen and ink. They will interpret the seashells on an 18 x 24" (46 x 61 cm) sheet of white vellum.

What Students Learned

Ask: How has this short time experience influenced the way you create artwork? Will you view time and materials differently in the future? Does your image maintain visual interest through the use of materials and composition? Students learned that budgeting their time was a very important lesson in order to complete the project in a two-hour time frame. Some students spent too much time on simply developing a pencil drawn composition and ended up rushing the media development. Reminding students how much time has lapsed in the process, or the time remaining is helpful for the most productive results.

The diverse interpretations showed the various ways in which a simple subject can be individually visually expressed.

Beginning with a mini reflection on art history that focused on the way in which varied artists interpret their subjects, the students experienced a better understanding of the concept before beginning the process. Their work showed diverse expression as artists because of what they brought to their subject. They also appreciated seeing the work of their classmates during a thirty-minute critique that followed.


* 18 x 24" (46 x 61 em) white vellum

* A variety of drawing and painting media such as colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk, charcoal, watercolor, tissue paper, and pen and ink


Twenty minutes for introduction; one hour and fifty minutes for process.

Craftsmanship and Creativity

10 points to 50 points

10 Poor use of materials, little attention to detail, subject not well defined, little development from original subject.

20 Satisfactory use of materials, satisfactory attention to detail, defined subject with attempt of viewing the subject in a new way.

30 Competent use of materials, adequate attention to detail, well defined, good image, evidence of personal interpretation and creative expression.

40 Good use of materials, good attention to detail, visually engaging image, strong image, evidence of personal interpretation and creative expression.

50-Excellent use of materials, extreme attention to detail, dynamic image demands to be seen, evidence of personal interpretation and creative expression


10 to 50 points

10 Poor use of class time, not focused on task.

20 Satisfactory use of class time yet not fully attentive to task.

30 Good use of class time, focused on project.

40 Very Good use of class time, very focused on project.

50 Excellent use of class time, strong focus on project.

Five additional points are given at the discretion of the teacher for exceptional problem solving, overcoming difficulties, complexity of the overall project, or extra effort put forth in the process.

Ken Vieth is an art teacher at Montgomery High School in Skillman, New Jersey.
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Article Details
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Author:Vieth, Ken
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 1999
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Next Article:Art, Consciousness & Change Jolene Rickard & Paulo Freire.

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