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Understanding Abstract Expressionism
Minnesota State Standards-Grades 6-8
The student will understand and use artistic processes to analyze and interpret a variety of works in at least two of the three arts areas required to be offered by a school from the following: dance, music, theater, and visual arts.
Benchmarks addressed in this lesson:
The student will:
2. understand the cultural and historical forms or traditions of visual arts;
3. understand how visual arts elements are similar to and different from the elements of other arts areas, such as dance, music, or theater;
4. use elements, principles, skills, and techniques of at least three different mediums; and
5. create original works of art to express specific artistic ideas.
1. The student will express artistic intent by self-selecting and using traditional and non-traditional painting tools, techniques, and/or skills. (skill)
2. The student will select appropriate elements and principles of art to develop artistic intent in a multi-layered acrylic painting. (skill)
3. The student will compare and contrast elements and principles of art and music using the painting Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock and the musical piece Kim by Charlie Parker. (reasoning)
4. The student will create an original painting using an emotion, gesture, and visual interpretation of selected music as a painting’s subject. (performance/product)
5.The student will reflect in writing on how their finished painting was similar to or a departure from a style of painting known as Abstract Expressionism. (knowledge reasoning)
Learning goal #1: (skill) Performance assessment: Observing and evaluating skills using a checklist.
Learning goal #2: (skill) Personal communication: Reading and responding to students comments in their sketchbook/journal.
Learning goal #3: (reasoning) Extended written response: Comparing and contrasting Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock and the musical piece Kim by Charlie Parker.
Learning goal #4: (performance/product) Criteria referenced rubric
Learning goal #5: (knowledge to reasoning) Extended written response: Writing an artist statement
Students will spend the first class period using acrylics with non-traditional painting tools to visually represent an emotion that is significant to them. No shapes can be used; concentration will be placed on elements of art (color, line, texture, value), principles of design, (e.g. rhythm, movement, pattern, emphasis) and making marks on the paper with paint for expression. Paintings will be created on d’Arches watercolor paper 22x30 (140 lb)
Using Gesso, over-paint with a large brush a second layer to work from for
today’s painting. Gesso can be diluted with various proportions of
water for transparency, scraped away to reveal what might be left “underneath.”
Listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Consider ways in which a visual
representation of this musical composition could be represented visually.
Again, no shapes can be used; concentration will be placed on elements of art
(color, line, texture, value), principles of design, (e.g. rhythm, movement,
pattern, emphasis) and making marks on the paper with paint for expression.
Using cuttings from Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, Modern Jazz Quartet's Precious Joy, Charlie Parker The Bird Soundtrack, and Miles Davis students will listen and interpret into their paintings the sounds paired with gesture and movement as they interpret through paint the music of the jazz.
“I learned many things from this unit. Many were affiliated with how we can paint. Before we painted this I personally believed that paintings were mostly done with a brush. I learned that abstract expressionism was a global phenomena.”
“From this unit I have learned a whole new style and process of painting. At first I did not know how to use music, action, or emotion as a subject for painting and on the first day I was very confused about what to do!”
“When I was in the process of painting, I went through many steps. On day one I painted my original feeling of joy and happiness. I used many different traditional and non-traditional materials and lots of bright colors. I started to get into my painting and feeling expressionistic. On day two I used gesso to cover up parts of my painting and to add a translucent layer over other parts of my painting. At first I felt some resistance to covering up my painting, but then I got into it and I felt better. The next layer was gesture and motion. We played around with motion and made lots of big bold brush strokes. This is when many kid’s paintings really started to change. It was really cool to see my painting and others come alive and have more depth.”
“During this project I learned a lot about abstract paintings and artists. I learned that in order to create an abstract painting you need to put your own self into the painting and to not have a “plan” as to what you are painting. I learned that abstract painting can come from
emotions, feelings and movement. It is a very free form of art and has no limitations. Doing this project showed how much of yourself you can put into a piece of art.”
Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock
“I do think that the unconscious mind is capable of making art. When an artist is going through the process of making a painting or sculpture they go through many steps to reach the final product. While going through this process, they may be compelled to add or subtract different elements of art for no reason. I think that their unconscious mind compels them to make these decisions for various reasons.”
Kathy Grundei AEM ‘06 Conference