Monday, October 20, 2008

Transitions to Abstraction - Lesson Plan

Popova - Two Figures

Age / Grade Level: 10th - 12th grade

Brief History/background:
To use direct observational drawing techniques combined with visual selection and collage methods to move from observation and objective images to the non-objective and abstract.

Students will learn one method to bridge the visual gap between making objective and observational artwork and that which is more non-objective and abstract using a personal three dimensional object as source material and inspiration.

9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition - A, B, C
9.2 Historical and Cultural Context - B, C
9.3 Critical Response - A, B, D
9.4 Aesthetic Response - B

Objectives: Students will:
Choose a personal three dimensional object, no larger than the size of a school backpack, to produce 8 different observational drawings. A view-finder will be used to assist with the visual selection process.
Students will make photo copies of their drawings, then cut up and dissemble them to produce a supply of smaller images from which to make abstract collages.
Students will use the collages as source material to construct a final piece of artwork.
Students will be become more aware of the process of working through stages to reach an end product while becoming visually oriented to the process of visual selection, collage, assemblage and mixed media.

Drawing paper cut to equal size proportions
Graphite art pencils from hard to soft
Charcoal – vine or compressed
Black India ink or acrylic paint
White acrylic paint
Straight edges
Utility knife or paper cutter
Chip board or other appropriate cutting surface
Glue – or Matte Medium

Visual Aids

Elizabeth Murray - The Lowdown (2001)

Instructor will prepare example drawings along with books and pictorial images (postcards) - using Cubism and some contemporary artists (Elizabeth Murray) as visual source materials.

Teacher Prep:

Personal Object - Toy Duck

Cardboard Viewfinders

Have a personal three-dimesional object on-hand, drawing paper pre-cut to a uniform size, example of a visual viewfinder, drawing tools and other visual examples ready and organized.

Teaching: Introduction of the lesson:

What is abstract or non-objective art and how is it different from realism or other types of art that you know? How does an artist make abstract of non-objective art and what do they think about during the process? Through this lesson, student will be introduced to a process of working through various stages to get to a point where they will be making artistic decisions less from reality and more a visual selection of lines, forms, shapes and compositional associations and arrangements.

One of the first types of non-objective art-making was introduced during the Cubist period. Working primarily from still life objects, artists began to bend and flatten reality in ways that had never been attempted or seen before.

Cubist Style

Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase

Starting with a series of 8 different observational drawings derived from a personal object - a three dimensional object no larger than a backpack - students will use a variety of drawing tools and the assistance of a visual viewfinder to make contour line drawings. Emphasis will be placed on varying line quality, finding different vantage points and using different tools to produce varied compositions and visual effects.

Detail Drawing

Detail Drawing

After the completion of the eight observation line drawings, students will make photo copies of the original drawings and then either cut or tear each copied drawing into 3 to 5 pieces.

From this new resource pool of cut and torn images, students will make at least two new collages works. The cut or torn pieces of paper will be arranged, discussed and finally glued down to form new compositions.

Abstract Composition #1

Abstract Composition #2

Student will then choose one composition as a visual source to make a larger final work in which the same drawing tools plus white and black paint, that can be mixed to make values of gray, will also be introduced.

A class discussion and critic will take place at three points throughout the project so that students can discuss their works and their feelings about the process and procedure of making work in this type of stage oriented method from observation into abstraction.

At three points in this project, students will stop and discuss their work and that of their colleagues in order to make a stronger connection to the process of visual selection, methods, problems, and goals of the lesson. The first class critic will take place after the initial eight observation drawings are complete – the second after the two collages are finished – and the third and final critique will come at the end one the final non-objective work is finished.

Time Allotment: Three Weeks
Week #1 An Introduction of the lesson and the completion of the eight observational drawings. Students who finish early can make more drawings beyond the required eight.
A class critic and discussion will be conducted at the end of week one.
Week #2 Students will dissemble, cut or tear their photo copied drawings and assemble at least two collage works onto larger pieces of paper. A class critic and discussion will be conducted at the end of week two.
Week #3 Students will work from a chosen collage to construct a larger final piece that will complete this lesson. A class critic and discussion will wrap up the lesson on the last day in which students will compare their 8 original drawings with their final pieces.

Safety Concern:
Instruction on safe cutting methods and the proper use of utility knives is advised before the students start cutting their photo-copied drawings.

Vocabulary / Terms:
Objective - A thing, person, place that the mind is aimed at. Working directly from either
two or three dimensional subject matter.
Non-objective - The opposite of objective – working from subject matter that is not tired
to reality – working conceptually or from one’s imagination.
Abstract - Existing only in the mind; not concrete
Composition - Arrangement of two-dimensional surface space into distinct parts or areas
Pictorial Plane - The area defined by the edges of the two dimensional working surface
Cubism - An early 20th century style of painting where objects are broken up analyzed
and re-assembled into abstract forms and compositions.

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