Throughout the year, the art curriculum connects to subjects and themes, such as nature, the built environment, and community. Our recent theme of identity, which is always the focus during the first few months of the year, is a wonderful way for Alcuin students to develop their drawing skills while also exploring their interests, needs and personal lives.
We have all been learning that making a great drawing isn’t all about having a steady hand or making things perfect, it’s about how you see and how you interpret the information that your eyes receive. I tell the students “draw what you see, not what you think you see.” Using mirrors and thinking about simple shapes and proportions, Junior and Senior Elementary students have been creating self-portrait drawings in their sketchbooks. These studies have developed into final compositions, some that include just the face and others that include the full figure drawn with colored pencils.
In addition to self-portrait studies, the Middle School students also composed an “I Am From” poem that includes meaningful imagery and sensory details connected to experiences from their own lives. The sketching exercises helped the students develop their realistic drawing skills and explore their personal style as they practiced contour drawing and shading techniques. Group drawing and writing activities also gave the students an opportunity to interact with one another and foster a sense of community in the classroom. A walking tour and visit to an artists studio in the Pilsen neighborhood gave the group a better understanding of how these complex issues of identity are being explored by professional artists in their own work as well as in public art projects with local communities in Chicago.
As the year continues, idea sharing and experimentation will continue to be at the core of the artistic process as we explore how the visual arts connects to our everyday lives and the world around us.
Alcuin Montessori Art Teacher
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