Wednesday, November 9, 2011

adapting art curriculum to accommodate art vocations

A copy of the brochure I designed at sixteen for
my school musical, "The Pirates of Penzance." 
    Many years ago, when I was a high school student, I had a marvelous high school art teacher, Nancy Jones. Of course, all of my art teachers were absolutely wonderful but I will share a bit of Mrs. Jones' wisdom here. She believed that it was entirely prudent to focus some of my studies upon those activities frequently assigned to artists in the "real" world. What I learned from Mrs. Jones, I have used time and time again throughout my entire career.
    For this very reason, I highly recommend to my colleagues the adaptation of some of their lesson plans to the realistic, technical applications used within the context of their own culture. What I mean by context is, those necessary applications most frequently used by contemporary employers. Graphic illustrators today must understand computer programing on a variety of levels. When I was young, these programs did not even exist, but an art teacher today would need to have the ability to teach some of these necessary applications. The realistic promotions of your young, budding artist may very well depend upon your abilities to integrate their traditional art studies with contemporary technology.
    Whenever there was to be a high school theater performance in which some form of advertisement was needed for the event, Mrs. Jones would often assign to her art students the responsibility of fulfilling one the following image requirements concerning the promotion of the event. Her assigned objectives would include the developmental skills needed to complete:
  • the brochure image for the actual performance
  • posters images to advertise the performance
  • ticket image designs 
  • newsletter images to promote the event
The "Ode" cover for Liberty High School,
was published in May 1984 by
students and priced $1.50.
    In addition to the traditional graphic design requirements, I would also include tee shirt image designs for a contemporary version of this type of project. My youngest child, who is a drama student, frequently purchases tee shirts advertising her high school plays, clubs, and musicals that are most usually designed by senior, art students from her district.
    Mrs Jones also assigned to graduating art and literature students an additional soft bound book created to profile their poems and paintings. We were expected to publish our finest work and to write something about it as well. This kind of assignment taught us about the challenges and realistic problem solving measures that are dictated by the publishing media. In addition to this learning exercise, students also had unique materials to submit for review in those portfolios submitted to colleges or art academies
     There are many considerations involved in the development of this form of publication. These considerations may be included within the objectives of a lesson plan designed to inform students about the publishing industry. To update this project even further, art teachers may choose to make this publication an actual electronic newsletter or blog. All of the following elements that I was taught are still necessary to both hard copy and internet publishing scenarios:
  • the overall design
  • the specific page layouts
  • cost requirements
  • the artists and poets selected for the publication
  • fonts used in the design
  • editing of the additional written materials
All the pages were published in black in white
in order to cut costs.
    As a senior I included the following text about my personal page along with a black and white photograph of a painting:
    "I chose to paint this scene of a German village because my brother stayed there when he was traveling in Europe. My brother does a lot of photography, but this isn't copied from any of his photographs. I usually work from photographs because the lighting never changes, and there isn't any chance of accidental perspective mistakes.
    This village has some very tricky architecture because it is built on slanted terrain. I used a graph to help transfer sketches to a larger scale and then applied paint.
    The town in Rothenburg is very old, it is the only one like it in Germany, and it is still kept as it was during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
    The technique I used for this piece is realism, and the paint is tempera. It took approximately forty-two hours to complete. I prefer scenery to any other subject, but I practice portraits just as much.
    Sometime, within the next three years, I plan to visit Rothenburg myself, while I am studying in England."

The caption reads, Liberty High School seniors Kathleen
Rice and Rob Jones surveyed the school's art scene
this week in preparation for the May 6-12 art
show there. Seniors like these will have
"shows within shows" in the special event that starts
Sunday from 2-4 p. m.
    Even at the age of seventeen, I was more concerned with describing the whats and hows of my choices than I was in describing my personal reasons for creating the artwork. Wow, I guess was destined to be a studio art instructor?
    Mrs Jones also promoted student exhibits in school and local newspaper publications. She would set up interviews with the students during our class time in order to ensure that these activities were "properly" engaged in. I've included here a photograph of my senior artworks. I no longer have the actual article, but I do remember that my teacher graded my participation in the interview. In her own way, she was committed to integrated studies before the concept had a specific name or requirement by the state. Nancy Jones understood that the adaptation of our curriculum to 'real life' situations would teach us the practical information necessary to our own survival as artists.