Monday, September 24, 2018

Marc Chagall Self Portraits

I've been thinking more and more about choice in the art room. I definitely try to strike a balance in my teaching philosophy and practice. After all elementary students need structure. They are still learning to use materials properly, the rules and procedures in the art room, and I have curriculum standards to fulfill.

And yet, student choice in the art room reveals a path to a wonderful variety of expression, lends itself to differentiation and increased student engagement. I am finding that when we talk about art, and artistic choices of famous artists, that students are inspired to make their own decisions in how and what they are making. This simple project turned into something magical for me and my 3rd graders as we learned about the art of Marc Chagall.

Our first look at some of Chagall's paintings observations like:
Some people are green, upside down, different sizes.
Some things are floating, or upside down.
Sometimes people or animals are shown as just a face, or their whole body.

We talk about how Chagall made choices as an artist to create his paintings in this way, and students were asked to think about the following: What can we do in our artwork to demonstrate that it is inspired by the work of Marc Chagall?
Show us three things that tell us about you
Create a self or family portrait or memory
Include people, buildings and nature (plants/animals)
Have images vary in size
Use non-realistic and bright colors
Add an unexpected image
Change the direction of objects
Floating or flying people/objects
Create a feeling of happiness
Include a favorite animal or pet

The three things that that tell me something about my students is required, and all of the other criteria work more like prompts. I don't expect every item to be addressed. Those three things are a great opportunity for me to learn a little more about each as we work and discuss our projects. The one thing I do dissuade my students from doing is writing words on their project. Some students are inclined to label things, or just write words instead of draw, so we talk about that as well.

We sketch ideas on a 4x6 piece of paper before moving on to 12x18. And then the process is pencil drawing, tracing lines carefully in sharpie, smaller areas in oil pastels, and painting larger areas in watercolor or pan tempera.

In having choices throughout this project, students care about what they creating. And when everyone's artwork is different, no one's choices are wrong. Here are some of my favorites!