Or, observing that the paintings were a little "plain," my mentor, Nicole Brisco, suggested flipping them and having students make another drawing on top. She liked my idea in response to her suggestion: have students flip their pieces and repeat their compositions as simple contour drawings overlaid on their paintings. If we do the new, improved version of this Challenge, I'll be sure to post samples.
1. The composition must be based on 1-point perspective.
2. The artwork must possess a sense of mystery created by shadows or other dark areas, silhouettes, etc. (Mystery can also be created by your combinations of objects (e.g. objects that might not normally go together.)
3. The composition must include:
- Mostly hard-edged geometric shapes combined with one or two organic shapes/forms (like a plant, tree, bird, etc.). Note: some students didn't include the organic object, so it could be optional.
- An object somewhere in the composition that is drawn from 2-point perspective (a suitcase, a television, a box, etc.).
- A patterned floor, floor covering or walkway that follows the rules of 1 point perspective.
a platform or stairs.
- A door, window, half-wall or opening of some kind between the foreground/middle ground space and the background space.
- An ambiguous spatial relationship somewhere in the piece.
Note: you may include other objects of your choice AS LONG AS YOU AVOID CLUTTERING THE COMPOSITION.
Reproductions of Craig Blair's work (choose carefully as the quality varies)
Reproductions of other surreal images that emphasize ambiguous spaces, one- and two-point perspective and a sense of mystery (e.g. Giorgio de Chirico)
- Set the stage with an art criticism activity related to the inspiration artist being sure to define "surrealism."
- Incorporate an art historical surrealist antecedent such as Giorgio de Chirico by comparing his work with Craig Blair's.
- Explain parameters of this Creative Challenge.
- Teach a simple one-point and two-point perspective mini-lesson.
- Direct students in the creation of thumbnail sketches that fit within the project parameters; help them choose the most successful idea and composition, combining aspects into another thumbnail if necessary.
- Transfer thumbnails to larger paper.
- If creating straight paintings, instruct them in the painting of their compositions with tempera. Require students to use a limited color palette of mixed "ish" colors (see glossary); if desired, instruct them in the defining of edges through graphite or ink marks.
- If creating tempera batiks, students do the following: paint each area of their paintings using about three thick coats. They should NOT paint over the lines, but should leave the paper exposed where the lines are. (Tracing over the lines in light colored chalk helps remind them not to paint over the lines.) Once tempera is completely dry, they completely cover the ENTIRE surface of their paintings with black India ink. Foam brushes work well for this. Once the ink is barely dry--it should not sit on the paintings for an extended period--they should place their paintings on cafeteria-type trays or pieces of acrylic or Plexiglas and gently rinse the ink off using a slow stream of water or water poured from a container over the sink. They should control how much ink is removed by rubbing gently with their fingers. The ink will soak into the exposed paper where the lines were drawn but not painted over AND it will adhere in a random way to the surface of the tempera paint creating a batik-like effect.
Assessment: Score and comment on each piece using the "Sailing the Seven Seas" rubric. (Sometimes I have the students score their own work first using the rubric, explaining that my scores will "trump" theirs, but that it is important for them to evaluate their own work.)