Pastels Day 2

Today is another skill building day with a little Art History mixed in.  I have made a "pastel folder" for each student that contains their landscape from the last class, and some "spacer pages" to put in between the pastel works they will make today.  The folders are made out of inexpensive paper (I buy a thin brown paper on a roll), and are simply large pieces folded in half.

Before we get any materials out, we take out our sketchbooks and take some notes on Claude Monet.  


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At this point, we begin to talk about the similarities between Monet's work, and the Marla Baggetta landscapes we completed last class.  We talk about how areas are broken down into blocks of color.  We review warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges) and cool colors (greens, blues, purples) and we look through Monet's paintings and try to identify warm and cool colors. 

Now its time to get to work.  We get out our materials, and I show the students this slide:

Students look up artist Ria Hills youtube pastel video tutorials.  They select the one they want to try and go for it!  I have some copies of the images below printed and for them to take to their workstations as reference.  They spend the rest of the day exploring pastels and through the video tutorials.  Although I only require them to complete one, most students do 2 and some even get to 3.  They can work at their own pace.  Remind them to write their names on the back of the work before starting... trust me!  Do it now.

For the rare student who looks to do the bare minimum and then quit for the day, I make these days "Studio Days".  Students receive a grade for their work habits on Studio Days.  Guidelines are simple:

  1. Spend your time in quiet productive activity.  You can talk with other artists as long as it is not disruptive to the work of others (or to me!)
  2. Students can listen to music (one earbud only so they can hear announcements from me and be aware of the classroom).

I have students spray their work as it is finished.  At the end of class they will put the work in their new "Pastels" folder and place spacer papers between works.  Then I have them turn the folder in to me for grading (they just make a pile in a spot designated by me).

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... and that's it!  Students usually really enjoy these days.  They get alot of freedom and they get to explore at their own pace.  They have the structure provided by the video tutorials, but they are only being graded on their work habits, so the pressure is off.  At the end of the day, they have 2-5 works in their Pastels folder and we are ready to take on Day 3 when we will be starting our own, original Pastel compositions!


On Day 3, they will need to come to class knowing which direction their original Pastel Artwork will take and with some photos to work from.  This is the real deal.  This is what we spent Day 1 and Day 2 preparing for.  Their artwork will be large in size (22" x 28") and will present a clear theme in content.  I give them 3 examples to consider (see below):

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For homework, students are instructed to take photographs for the project.  We have already learned about composition and framing, but it never hurts to throw in a few reminders about how to take a good photo.  Students turn in these photos to me as jpegs by uploading them to a link created in Dropbox: 

How to collect files from students using Dropbox

1) Login to Dropbox

2)  Click on "File Request" on left menu

3)  Click "Request Files" button on right side of screen

4)  It will ask you what files are you requesting?  The answer you give will create the folder for the photos.  In this case, I'll title it "Photos for Pastel Project".

5)  It will generate a link for a new folder.  I copy this link onto a page in a word document, repeat it on the page for however many students I have in class, print, and then cut slips of paper with the link on it to distribute to each student.

6)  Students are instructed to upload 1-2 photos to the link by the end of the following day.  This gives me enough time to print the images and have them ready for the beginning of the next class.


I leave 10 minutes (or more) for clean up time.  I encourage students to walk the room and look at each other's work before they begin cleaning up.  

I have them wipe off placemats and tables with a wet sponge.  I project this image and they have to put their original pastel set back together something like this: Color families grouped, warms on top, and cools on bottom.  "Orphaned" pieces go back in the correct color family cup.  


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