Friday, August 25, 2023

Oil Pastel-Glue Pattern Project for the Blind

The concept of balance gets more complicated when you try to balance color and shape throughout a composition. The goal is to lead the viewer's eye throughout the piece, placing blues and oranges in ways the form triangles and take value and shape into account as you create some visual stability.

This is especially complicated when you don't have any vision. My students, who are visually impaired or blind began their assignment by setting a squirt of school glue in motion to create a meandering line that crossed over itself to make shapes. The glue created boundaries for oil pastel, but Elmer's isn't a tall enough wall for some of my students, So I would trace over the Elmer's with Wiki-Stix for my students to feel their shapes. Or they would start their drawings with Wiki-Stix and I'd trace them in hot glue before removing the Wiki Stix.
Wiki Stix create boundaries on one or two shapes at a time.
Students would choose where to place each color and then vary the value within the shape, which made it a more interesting than flat shapes. Oil Pastels are easy to use and after coloring for a short amount of time it is easy to feel the difference between plain paper and the greasy patch of color. I was so pleased with how the assignments turned out, proving that you don't need to know how to draw to make a pretty picture, and you don't need to see to make a solid composition.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Pattern Rubbings

Stencils are an easy way to create images for people who are blind, but rubbings are another easy form of printmaking that can yield some interesting results. Since we're learning about Principles of design, we used this assignment to talk about pattern and balance, while learning the process and technique of crayon rubbings.
I was was given some really neat tactile mazes, that are used to help beginning Braille students learn now to move their fingers to track lines. While I have students who are fluent Braille readers and some who are just starting, it was a fun activity for everyone to try to navigate their fingers through the mazes.

Then we placed paper on top of the favorite shapes and patterned sheets before rubbling  on the paper and revealing the image. Most of the younger students needed the paper taped to the plastic sheet to prevent it from moving, but we also found that shifting the sheets, or using several different patterned sheets to create a single image made it all the more interesting. Changing colors for each sheet, or even within a single layer added to the complexity. Students peeled the paper from crayons and held them on their side, pushing the crayon perpendicular to the lines that they were tracing.  Oil pastels worked better than crayon on black paper.

I had a few students who just wanted to use one plate to rub, which was essentially copying an image. I told them that it was the combination that made it their own artwork. You take a cookie and you take chocolate chunks and the combination makes a new invention: the chocolate chip cookie. Their job was to make something that hadn't been made before by choosing colors, placement and combinations, not just replicate something that someone else had already made. Some classes also went around the school on texture scavenger hunts, making rubbings of any surface that would make a good rubbing.  Its a fun and quick project that can produce some interesting images.


Monday, August 21, 2023

Symmetrical and Bisymmetrical Art project

I'm starting this school year by teaching the Principles of Design. These are the ideas and beliefs guide us in our art-making, much like grammar is used to organize the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) in written language, the principles of design are the way we organize the elements of of art (lines, shapes, colors, etc.) in art. We're communicating visually. Do we want to communicate a sense of stability and equalibrium? Then we'd better know ways to balance our composition. Do we want to communicate a sense of order and unity? Repeating an element to create a pattern might do the trick.

Why do we see to balance our lives? Our governments? our diets? Our budgets? More importantly, why would we want to balance those things?  Because everything works better and feels better when it's balanced.  

We made symmetrical balance by slowly laying paint-soaked string on one side of a paper and folding it over to print a mirrored image on the opposite side of the fold, or line of symmetry.
Some of these papers were folded both vertically and horizontally to create bilateral symmetry. And some were folded diagonally as well as vertically and horizontally (like a plus sign and multiplication sign in folds) to create radial symmetry.  

My students who are totally blind kept it simple and sprinkled sand onto wet paint to make tactile images. 
These don't take long, so we can cover multiple types of balance in a class period or two. It's nice for students to be able to learn the types of balance by creating them and within an hour have several visual examples of the definitions they're studying.