Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Introduction to Value!

Here is a summary of the first unit that I taught to my second semester 8th gradeVisual Art students.  The unit is about introducing them to the use of grayscale and value.  We completed a series of four exercises; each of the exercises taught a specific skill and the skills built upon each other.  Please check back soon to see the very cool monochromatic paintings that the kids did after learning about value.  I broadened the theme to include tints and shades of one color, too.  The unit was a great success and I am really loving having a full ninety days of art with my students this year!  What a difference it makes when it comes to teaching themes in depth, versus just touching upon a concept and moving on due to lack of time.  I hope that my school system will keep this format next year since it really allows me to share even more great art information with my kids!
The photos above show two views of part of a large bulletin board in my art room, Room 9.  I decided to arrange the information in a flow chart as you can see by the black construction paper arrows.  Each part of the board reviews a key term or fact about value, which is the range of lights, mediums and darks.  The display runs left to right horizontally, but to fit it into the blog, I have it shown top to bottom.

The first exercise that the students completed was to shade a value scale using an ebony pencil.  I like to teach this exercise where you fill in the darkest value first, almost black and adjust the pressure applied to the pencil so that each sample is gradually lighter until the final box is almost white.  This beginning exercise teaches the students to take their time to complete a range of pencil values that are smooth and texture-free.  I had the students store their work in a paper portfolio because it was easier to house all of the exercises in one area.  Also, it was much easier to have everything together when I graded the work, since I could see individual progress by viewing each student's work as a series.

For the second exercise I had students select an abstract composition of a black and white magazine picture.  I had the images ready to go, so all the kids needed to do was choose on to draw.  The photo above shows a small magazine picture of a close-up of a men's watch.  The concept was to have students enlarge the composition and then use the ebony pencil to create a range of values.  They were asked to be as accurate as possible and to use at least five lights and darks.  The most challenging part of the exercise was the enlargement of the photo!  Once the image was drawn, most of the students did an awesome job shading their picture. The image above was drawn and shaded by 8th grader Devon H.

 The third exercise required students to experiment with using a small piece of a peeled black crayon to shade a sphere.  I demonstrated how to use a compass to draw a circle and them how to hold the crayon to make a rubbing for some areas.  Other parts of the circle were made by holding the peeled crayon in a more upright position.  Ultimately, the students needed to figure out a way that they could use the peeled crayon to create values that could be placed to create the illusion of roundness.  This meant that they would need to leave a highlight, some medium values on the body of the circle, a shadow and a cast shadow.  By varying the pressure, this was possible, but would require concentration and skill!  The students pleasantly surprised me with the focus they gave to trying to shade their spheres. This exercise also introduced the concept of creating contrast, which would become very important in upcoming lessons.

In this photo we see Jasmin T. and Miranda B. working on shading spheres.  Note that they each practiced on the inside cover of their portfolios.  We can see Miranda using a compass to draw circles that she will shade for her final draft.

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