Art Camp

One of the things that Will and I have most enjoyed studying together and learning to apply the truth of Scripture to, is art - more specifically, our love for visual communication, excellent craft, and creativity of all sorts.  We  have each taken design classes on the collage level, which ignited our love for this particular field of study.  Despite the postmodern approach to truth that many of the classes we took promoted, we noticed how undeniable the rule of God over art and beauty becomes when you approach it from a design perspective.  We have since agreed that we would love to produce a design curriculum for students of all ages which teaches the foundations of visual design through the truth of Scripture and lays the foundation for excellence in all areas of art and aesthetics.   

We have a whole lot more to learn and are always excited to get our hand on good rescources, with we have found to be few and far between on this topic. Earlier this year, we had a chance to put some of our ideas into practice.  At our local home school support group, TACHE, we offered a class called Beginning Design.  Our guinea pig group of enthusiastic students was small and mostly comprised of good friends or family.  All of them were in the junior high to high school age range. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and appreciated the opportunity to begin refining some of our ideas.  The experience was certainly a learning one!  We were encouraged by the results and by the continued fruit we are observing in our students.

You can read more about our first go at a Beginning Design class on Will's photo blog here:

Last week we had another opportunity to teach a class, this time a group of young children ranging
pre-kindergarten to 4th grade!  The context, was a three hour day camp hosted by a family from church who invited us to lead their group of 11 children in an afternoon of learning and activities centered around art. 

I was particularly excited about this event because it was a chance to practice presenting the same material we had been working with in our Beginning Design class to a younger audience.  Once we got our feet wet, however, Will and I both agreed that working with the younger students was somewhat more intimidating for us than we expected.  Keeping things engaging, active, and exciting was important but an even higher priority for us was presenting solid content in a way that was simple and easy to grasp.  I am a firm believer that children are able to handle much deeper concepts than we usually assume, and that "dumbing down" material  cheats the student and the teacher out of the greatest growing experiences.  Instead, I have always enjoyed trying to simplify concepts to their most basic form, which I believe is helpful for both young and old minds alike.

The kiddos at the day camp were an excellent group of well trained listeners and eager participants.  This was probably key to the success of the day because I felt particularly lacking in sharpness and energy.   (That can happen when you're entering the third trimester of pregnancy you know!)  But I am happy to say that it was a great success, and I would be eager to give the lesson plan another go with another group of kids.  Any takers?

We started by discussing what art is and what it means to be an artist, settling on this conclusion:  

As artists who know God, it is our job to tell the world about what is true and beautiful with our art.  To do this we need to learn to create like the first and greatest artist – God himself!

From there, we looked at the Creation account, with the intent of discovering ways that we could create like God creates.  We split the day into 3 parts, with a few minutes of teaching followed by a hands on activity for each section.  For each teaching segment, we observed one or two principles of design in scripture and creation, defined the principles, and looked for application of the principles in some of Vincent Van Gogh paintings.  The students would then have 20 to 40 minutes to work on a project and apply what we had learned.  

This is a breakdown of the material we covered:  

From the creation account in Genesis 1, we discovered 5 secrets to making things beautiful:
a.      From Day 1 we discoverd CONTRAST
b.      From Day 2, 3 and 4 we discoverd REPETITIONand VARIATION
c.       From Day 5 and 6 we discoverd ORDER and UNITY

We were introduced to the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh as we learned how to use these secrets in beautiful artwork. 

 We applied what we learned by creating 3 projects:
a.      While painting a rainbow, we learned about COLOR, the color wheel, primary and secondary colors.
b.      Using found objects from outside, we practiced using pattern and creating a COLLAGE. 
c.       We worked together as a group to create a side walk chalk MURAL, representing each of our individual families.  


CONTRAST: the word artists use when two things are so completely different that they both become more beautiful. 
REPETITION: the word we use to describe something that repeats over and over throughout a piece of art.  Repetition helps us understand what we see.   
VARIATION: the word we use to describe the parts of a piece of artwork that are different.  Variation keeps us interested in what we see. 
ORDER: what we call it when every part of a work of art has a purpose and a place
UNITY: what we call it when all of the parts of a work of art are working together well. 
COLOR: light broken up into parts
COLLAGE: a piece of art made from all kinds of materials and objects, organized into a beautiful pattern or picture
MURAL:  a very large piece of art, usually a painting that is made of many parts.  Murals are often created to decorate large walls or the sides of buildings.  

It was a full day but the kids did seem to really enjoy themselves.  It was also exciting to see some of the great artwork that they produced!