Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Talking it through

Yesterday I hit a wall of frustration.  Between preparing for the first day at school and re-working my relief sculpture example I was swimming with ideas and floundering on what to do next.  My list of things to do was choking my ability to focus on any one of them.  So I took a break and went to my dear friend and fellow teacher's house for a coffee break and some guidance.  Funny thing is all he did was listen and I talked through my own plan of action.

In the process of talking through the priorities it became clearer to me how I should approach the pace of the 3D class I'm designing.  Starting with a relief portrait sculpture made from layers of cardboard and then going to a sculpture in the round using collage on a manikin head is both overkill and not enough experimentation to fully grasp the concepts of relief and color symbolism.

Question: How will I give the students the fully understand the characteristics and qualities of relief sculpture, continue to find ways to express their personal identity teach the sculptural methods included in the state standards for art?

Answer: Continue the concept of relief sculpture but change it up a bit.  1st project = assemblage (additive technique) 2nd project - modeling, subtractive sculpture and maybe even casting.  Instead of adding layers to build height, students will subtract from a slab.  Then use plaster to make a cast of that carving.  Continuing to emphasize the relationship between positive and negative space with the carving and casting will reinforce those elements introduced in the first portrait relief  project.

Through brainstorming how to go about developing this lesson concept I found myself looking back through the lessons I had book marked.  THere had to be something out there for me to build on.

Dick Blick showcases a lesson on their site called Bas Relief Painting.  Their lesson is my starting point.  The lesson offers different ways to connect the process with history, architecture, and ancient cultures.  Greek and Roman architecture with marble relief sculptures, Native American Totem carvings and paintings, West African Mahogany carvings and masks, Mesopotamian sand sculptures and Egyptian limestone temple carvings are the examples given by Dick Blick.  This lesson also uses Wonder Cut linoleum blocks that are mostly used for printing. 

Question: This is a 3D class, not a 2D class so how can I build on that lesson? 

Answer: Recycle the old red and white clay left over from last year to create thick slabs for students to carve.  Then cast the completed carved slabs in plaster.  Why these materials?  It's what we have available that doesn't require me to buy additional supplies.  (The budget was cut to bare bones)  Because we will cast the slab, it doesn't matter if the clay is "properly" wedged because it won't be fired.  Students can focus on their carving which will be the "positive" space of the final artwork.  Red and white clay can be combined to create enough clay for the class of 25.  The pieces will be small enough to use acrylic paint or stains to bring color into the sculpture.  A clear coat of modge podge or acrylic sealer can be added to the survace to lock in color and keep moister out.  Keeping with the theme of identity the prompt for this project could be a person, place, or thing that has shaped who we think we are.

Well, I'm off to plan that more.

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