Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Set Design

My students, all of whom are visually impaired or blind, have an Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) added to their academic curriculum. One of the nine areas of the ECC is Career Exploration. For the last two months of Friday mornings, I have been able to teach set design as a possible career. Some students worked with another teacher learning to build panels. Each of these panels was built from 3-8 foot 2X4s: one for each side and one cut in half for the top and the bottom. A  4ftX8ft birch panel was nailed to the front and back of the frame. Then 2X4 scraps were used to built a stand at the bottom with 4 coasters on each to move with ease. This gave my class 4 large panels, with two sides each to use as a canvas for our images.

The chorus teacher wanted to use the panels in our upcoming winter concert and requested an outdoor snow scene and indoor Christmas scene. As a class we researched source material on the internet and decided the best parts of each image to incorporate into our own images. I drew the final scene which they copied onto a piece of overhead plastic and then we projected it onto the panels and traced them. 

Because my students are visually impaired, I had them paint mostly the large, flat areas of color. 
They did stones for the fireplace. No one noticed any imperfections from the audience.

And tape works well to keep students in the lines. Any mistakes were fixable since I kept enough paint mixed to go back over stray marks.

There wasn't enough time in our brief Friday classes to finish, so some of my regular art students pitched in during the week.

Trees and wreathes had a black underpainting to give richness and shadows to the forms.
Then we added details such as green branches topped with snow. Candles, berries, stockings and fire in the fireplace. It was fun feeling like we were having art inside a toasty home decked with holly, or out in a snowy landscape. But the ultimate pay off was seeing a performance brought to life through quality sets. I am so glad my students had the luxury of working on such a large scale and know they will never forget the experience.

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