Art Journaling… an intriguing idea. Fits perfectly with a series on building creativity.
I love the idea of doing something everyday. We do a bit of that with sketchbook assignments. Anyway to get kids to do Art on their own is a success. Just like the best way to improve your reading is to read. The best way to improve your skills in Art is to do it.
But when faced with a blank page many freeze (kids & adults alike). They don’t know what to do. Unsure to take the first step. And even if you have an idea in your head, it’s scary to make that first mark. I knew I wanted to start this series by giving them a few pages they could come back and add to later. An idea that didn’t need a master plan.
That’s how I decided to actually start this series with Zentangles or doodles. You don’t need a master plan to doodle. There are no wrong answers. Usually a framed masterpiece is not the goal. So its not as scary to start. It’s a great activity to ease students into the idea of doing something just to create.
The heart of the lesson
Contrary to how I typically teach, where I would start looking at examples, discuss how the artists used the elements of Art and design (line, shape, pattern, value) I held back and didn’t show examples.
Instead I asked them to look around them. Look for patterns in their surroundings. Look for interesting lines. Recreate those patterns. Use those patterns to inspire made up patterns. They enjoyed this and started a collection of designs in their sketchbooks.
After I gave them plenty of ime ot push past the easy, obvious stuff and really look for something new, we opened the discussion. “What did you find or make up?” (I’m lucky that I have time to do this. We usually have at least an hour and a half, with small classes. The discussions are great!) With some inspiration from their peers, I give them sometime to see what else they can come up with.
Finally after all this time challenging them to find their own way, I will introduce some examples.
“What stands out to you?” -“It looks like an eye…” “This one is a roof…”
“What different lines are used?”
“What about the overall values do you see?” -“Dark…light…medium.”
“How is that achieved?”
Then I let them play with and work through those ideas a bit.
I love all the time to just explore! If you are patient, they will push themselves and come up with more in both quantity and quality.
Then I give them some examples of what they can do with it. The examples I had were: one with an overall pattern (discussed eye movement/direction and contrast through value), one with a beautifully detailed hawk (discussed contour lines to achieve the overall design and value used), and a contour of a profile with hair flowing out beautifully filled with pattern (discussed negative space, contoured line, and value again).
The goal was to start them on a page in their sketchbooks that they can comeback to again and again.
Middle schoolers especially like to make things with their names.
This step was on a second day with one class and within the same class with another (different class length and different dynamic of students ).
We are building creativity but I’m also not throwing them to the wolves. So we did have a “project” to complete.
I gave them a choice of a few diffent proportioned rectangles (slightly thicker white paper, though other colors would be fun).
I didn’t give visual examples but told them I wanted them to try to make their name as large as they could. Possibly coming off the page. The name could be solid black lines or they could be empty so that they could be filled with pattern.
As they worked I might mention how I like an area. How the dark spaces helped my eye move around or how specific lines drew my eye in. Or maybe I got lost in an area and asked, “How could you fix that?”
And the best part? They enjoyed it AND came to class next time with new Zentangles/doodles to share with the class!