A Brush With Art

I. Course description

Draw, paint, sculpt, construct, collage and think through three weeks of the creative arts. This class is appropriate for both the beginning artist and the master craftsperson. Scholars will dabble in art history, profile major artists, view significant work, but our emphasis will be on hands-on, heads-up arting. Each day will end with a critique of scholars’ works and discussion about what problems they encountered during the daily assignment.

II. Instructor’s educational preparation and current employment

I’ve taught art in Missouri schools for four years and taught at the Academy for six years. My art background is sketchy. I started drawing in high school, painting in college and attending gallery openings since then. Although I have attended art classes at the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Artist Guild, my personal experiences with painters, photographers and ceramicists have taught me the line’s share of what I know.

I teach at Grace Middle School in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. I teach Social Studies, Language Arts, and Art. I participate in the after school program offering clubs in cooking, chess, art, theater and outdoor activities.

III. Rationale for inclusion in a program for gifted students

The scholars often feel pressure to take “academic” classes in high school and miss taking art class. This class gives them an opportunity to devote energy and thought to something they haven’t considered in two or three years.

Other students have taken art class in high school but admit that they are not allowed to be as creative as they want because their teachers are more concerned with formal properties of their work instead of the more subjective expressive qualities. This class gives them an opportunity to create without worrying about good grades and without being motivated by the need to create works of art, which will be “judged”.

Many of the scholars know how to write papers and solve math or science problems. The material in academic classes does not challenge them. In A Brush With Art students are immediately aware that they cannot solve all of the problems associated with depicting objects realistically, landscapes with correct perspective, or render the human figure easily. Art frustrates them and they are forced to deal with solving problems in new ways. They realize they cannot do it immediately and that they must invent new ways to look at new problems. Art is about seeing and creating. Through the process of viewing and making art they learn to think outside the box and deal with not being able to do something as well as they want to do it.

IV. Major topics covered
  • Aesthetic properties of art
  • Formal properties of art
  • Technical properties of art
  • Expressive properties of art
  • Why different people create
  • Drawing basics
  • Painting basics
  • Linoleum cut/printing
  • Collage
  • Sculpture
  • Art criticism
  • Elements of design
V. Pre-requisite knowledge


VI. Learning objectives
  • To make students comfortable experimenting with a variety of media
  • To make students uncomfortable by giving them visual problems they cannot immediately solve
  • To compel students to look at problems from a variety of perspectives
  • To develop problem solving abilities using a variety of creative techniques
VII. Primary source materials
  • Art books
  • Art magazines
VIII. Supplementary source materials
  • Local museums and galleries
  • Visiting artists
IX. Computing and the Internet
  • Web addresses given for relevant sites
X. Typical classroom strategies
  • Demonstration
  • Discussion
  • Hands-on activities
  • Collaborative projects