Guest post by Pat Knepley
This month, we have been learning about Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE), and how it can help you incorporate art into your overall curriculum, rather than just having it as an add-on or recreational time.
DBAE is a means of teaching art by using art history, art criticism, aesthetics, and art production as the foundational elements of your art program.
This week, we’re focusing on the part of art instruction that often strikes fear into the hearts of parents: art production. For those who don’t have much talent or experience with art, trying to teach art production can be daunting. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be.
The biggest impediment to successful experiences in making art is a lack of confidence. But I believe home educators can have an enormous influence if students focus on the process of being creative rather than focusing only on the product.
As with the previous weeks, let’s consider art production by looking one more time at Leonardo da Vinci’s beautiful work, The Last Supper.
A great lesson to tie in to The Last Supper would be to ask your student to remember a favorite meal experience, for example, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or perhaps a favorite birthday, and make a drawing using colored pencils of the place and the people there. Show different facial expressions that portray the emotions displayed during the meal.
Provide a focal point: Who was the center of attention? Why were all eyes on this person at this meal? And what is the exact moment being described with the picture?
Perhaps when Grandpa carved the turkey? Or when big sister blew out her birthday candles? Or maybe when your friend laughed so hard at your joke that milk came out of his nose.
Re-creating special moments through art can be a very powerful vehicle for communicating what resonates with the artist and consequently with the viewer. The best part about incorporating art instruction, and specifically MAKING art, into the core curriculum is that your creativity knows no bounds.
Decorate a cake in the splatter and drip style after studying a Jackson Pollock.
Try your hand at growing sunflowers after discovering all of the many sunflower paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.
Break out the Play-Doh® to channel your inner August Rodin once you’ve explored his unique, rugged sculpture style.
The results are never wrong. The process of exploration is where the learning takes place.
So, my advice to the home educator is to consider art instruction not be a “nice-to-have,” or an extra (if we can find time), but an integral part of any well-rounded classical education. The benefits to students have been well documented, and the opportunities for your left-brained as well as right-brained child to think about God’s world in creative terms is invaluable.
The inclusion of art can be so much more than hoping kids learn to draw. Art history cannot be separated from history in general, and the cognitive twins of art criticism and aesthetics provide deeper levels of thinking. Therefore, I encourage you to dive into the messy, wonderful, crazy and fun universe that is art, with all of its components. You and your children don’t want to miss out on all that our creative God can reveal.
In the following video, you can learn about 1-point perspective by observing how it works in da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Watch the video, then try it for yourself.
Author’s Note: The area of art education that makes people, if not nervous, perhaps hesitant . . . is the art-making process: art production. But drawing is a skill like any other skill. I believe it can be taught (like how to swing a tennis racquet can be taught) with age-appropriate instruction. I recommend the DVD-based drawing instruction that I host: Art Class from See the Light for ages 6 to 10. With this fun, foundational, skill-building series, kids of all ages will feel successful when learning to draw.