8th Grade Triptych Paintings (Part 1)

My 8th graders are in for a treat this year – new projects! When I first came to this school, I had a lot of challenges ahead of me in regards to student motivation – they simply had none and expected me to bear the weight by doing their work.  That’s a big no-no in my book and after 2 years, the students don’t even consider asking me silly questions like, “Will you just do it for me, Miss J?”  Beyond the motivation, they had lacked strong development in color theory and elements/principles prior to my arrival and because of this, I created lessons that would push the students with the knowledge they were currently learning.

And again, after two of challenging years, I felt safe enough that I could take everything up a notch and challenge the students to really use what they’ve learned to create fantasterful new ideas.   (Yes, I just made up the word fantasterful.)  After the last two days of syllabus review and expectation overview – I’ve had a chance to review some of the previously learned concepts from the last two years. With most of the previous concepts retained, I as ready to go, starting with the 8th grade projects surrounding Triptychs.

With my prezi (click image for prezi presentation) in tact and students ready to go, I dove right into a project that first reviews art history concepts surrounding triptych paintings and then their expectations regarding color, space, and color theory.  Students would be creating a small triptych, using a natural/organic subject matter, and using color theory, present the background to be complimentary of the foreground.

First step was understanding nature and how to draw organic forms.  We talked about Disney and how nature is depicted like cookie cutters – rule #1 was to stay away from Disney looking plants.  Second, we got our materials and headed outside to draw anything natural.

As I walked around I was able to work with students and help them practice moving their eye between the paper and the project.  This is where students struggled the most but as they began to practice, they realized their work became more natural and realistic when they checked often between the paper and their object.


The second biggest challenge was getting students to move freely and quickly.  Many of them concentrated so hard they began to develop something that looked like a final project.  If the student was catching the details, I let them continue with this direction so that they would remained challenged in their drawing.


This exercise prepared them for what their project involved, drawing forms from nature.  Overall, it was wonderful to get outside and experience a class full of sketching with no stress.  The kids enjoyed it and I was overly impressed with how many students pulled in the Elements and Principles knowingly – even discussing with me their possibilities.

Part 2 will involve more about the painting and color theory revolving around this project.


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