For the past two weeks, Jennifer has had students working on distorted self portraits using only black, grays, and white. the goal of the assignment was to help students distinguish between different value ranges without getting too caught up in the paintings being precise or accurate to source imagery. The results were beautiful. Students showed remarkable variety in their works and an ability to turn a two dimensional surface into a work of art.
Below are a few selected works by students from this assignment.
While the students were working Jennifer and I walked around the room observing progress. I'm a very shy person, but she encouraged me to interact a bit more with the students while they worked. At first I was a bit timid, but I found the more I spoke to them, the more willing they were to ask for my advice. Jennifer is really good about striking up conversations with the students and learning not just their names, but about them as people. I find this helps to build a stronger relationship between student and instructor. It seems to both put students at ease and makes her more open and approachable, also getting to know the students definitely takes a lot of pressure and fear away during critique.
For their first critique, Jennifer had everyone write a letter to a painting of their choice, first addressing the painting by a name they had made up for it. this was a good way to establish initial reactions in 1-2 words. They were then supposed to tell the painting what it reminded them of and how they perceived the paintings mood. this was a great way to establish content of the work, and it helped the students get in touch with the basic feeling and mood the works provoked. Finally, she had them ask the paintings some questions. This was effective in helping the students think critically about the piece asking it why it was the way it was. After the letters were written, they were set down in front of the painting they were about and read aloud.
Afterwards, Jennifer asked the class general questions about all of the paintings (Why some received more letters than others, what about each painting drew them in, how they perceived the paintings that received no letters etc.)
Beginning with the written paragraphs seemed to make the students feel more comfortable sharing their perceptions and opinions out loud and there was seldom any awkward silences. Having sat through countless critiques myself, I was shocked at how engaged and verbal all of the students were throughout the entire ordeal.
I'm a masters student of art shadowing a professor this semester in order to gain experience and knowledge to teach my own courses one day.