Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lesson idea: Sumi-E painting

This is from the world art study from the interactive art history class I teach. We looked at four different areas of world art - Asian, African, Native American (to include South American), and some European. I chose to do Sumi-E style painting because it was a project idea that would be easiest to fit into the week we have in the schedule for this chunk of time. Sad, but that's how I sometimes have to decide on things.

We used the Holbein Bamboo Brush sets, Yasutomo Liquid Sumi ink, and Kozo paper rolls - all from Dick Blick. Each student was given the following portions or paper - (2) 15" lengths, and (1) 30" length - and they had to submit their best brushwork on a minimum of 15" of paper. They practiced on community sketchbook pages (leftovers from what past students didn't want to take with them) and experimented with the medium. Once they were confident enough with their brushwork and understanding of the way the ink bleeds itself, they developed design ideas from examples they found online as well as from the book Japanese Ink Painting.

Throughout the creative process, I stressed the importance of holding the brush in the proper way like this:

And I also banned "personal music" (from Ipods and such things) for the week and played streamed sounds of nature from Pandora while they painted. The environmental changes in the classroom yielded exceptional work despite the fact that they fussed about the process overall...

A few kids have even told me that they went and got Sumi-E painting supplies to have at home and have continued with this style of art independently! I think it's something that they are seeing is a nice change of pace that has added balance to their very busy and regimented lives.

Here are some more amazing examples of what they did. Last Spring's collection pales in comparison to what is shown here. This is not to say that last year's students are more talented but probably more than I was more  experienced at teaching this style of artwork.

Last Spring I tried to do lanterns made of balsa wood and tissue paper and then I tailed it with this project but  I believe I will stick with this and only this for this course. It's an easy winner and offers the students and experience that they wouldn't otherwise consider for themselves.

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