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Anna Culik CEP 818

An Art Curriculum
For Developing Creativity This document serves as an overview of how to use the cognitive skills of perceiving, patterning, abstracting, embodied thinking, modeling, and play in the art room to develop creative thinking. The curriculum is designed to be a source of ideas and inspiration, not lesson plans. The ideas below should leave the art teacher with an understanding of the cognitive tool and a way to apply it into their own practice and classroom.


Initially, all knowledge about the world is acquired through observing, paying attention to what is seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted, or felt within the body.
-Root-Bernstein pg 25

Learning to see seems like a task for only those who suddenly gain sight after blindness, but as an art teacher (and student) I have certainly noticed that people can learn to see the details, depth cues, shapes, light and shadow. What is more surprising that noticing for the first time, and being able to reproduce, the angle of an eyebrow, the curve in your chin, or heaven forbid, the pores and hairs which wed like to leave out? In my own drawing classes I took as a student we frequently participated in drawing exercises, such as blind contour drawings, drawing an image upside down, or working from a grid. These exercises all were designed to heighten the ability of perception. To allow the student to see what is truly there, rather than to work from a preconceived or symbolic version of the subject. Typically, a blind contour is a line drawing that is continuous (the artist never picks up the pencil) and is done without ever looking at the paper. It is supposed to force the artist to move their pencil along with every curve and wrinkle they see, without the worry of what the drawing actually looks like. The artist draws a selfportrait, unable to see the drawing but perceiving the shapes, curves, and details of his face. It is all about the act of looking, not the finished product! Classroom Connections: Students rotate around each other, creating multiple blind contour drawings of each other on the same paper. Students use their hand or shoe as subject and create blind contour drawings Students look in the mirror and draw their face without looking

PATTERNING: TESSELATIONS Our ability to recognize patterns is the basis for our ability to make predictions and form expectations. -Root-Bernstein, pg 93
As an art teacher my students and I are constantly searching for patters. From repeating lines or colors, to shapes that make use of negative space, or similarities in style or process. Patterns in a work of art can create the feeling of motion, a sense of direction, or can literally trick the eye into seeing what is not there, such as the Op Art that can create such powerful optical illusions. We find patterns in architecture, in nature, paintings, sculpture- its everywhere! Tessellations have an interesting connection to both math and nature. The structure of a honeycomb, the wing of a dragonfly, the scales of a snake or the rind of a pineapple- all have shapes that fit together with no gaps or spaces. The negative space around is the same as the positive within. The master of tessellations was the artist M.C. Escher, whose artwork combines mathematics and design to create images that challenge expectations and force the eye to see two subjects simultaneously. Classroom Connections Students go on a pattern hunt and try to find patterns in the art room, school, or playground. Students create their own tessellation. Students get a shape that tessellates and create two subjects that it could be (for example, a fish and a bird).


To arrive at abstraction, it is always necessary to begin with concrete reality... -Pablo Picasso Pablo Picasso's iconic bulls show the progression into abstraction. The final bull in this series is clearly recognizable, but reduced to its most basic form, alluding to an essential form- an abstraction from reality. The process of abstraction is a process of selection, of distillation. Scientists, artist, poets- where would they be if unable to select an important trait and pursue it as a singular piece of the whole. The world is an amazingly complex place, and the cognitive skill of abstracting creates a simpler forms which can then be expressed. Artists who are considered abstract are often distilling the vital forms and lines into something completely unlike the original and yet still recognizable.

Classroom Connections Using Picasso's series of abstracted bull drawings as inspiration, students will choose an object and create a series of illustrations which become progressively more abstract. Students search for the subject in abstract paintings and sculptures.


The man who really sees sculpture must move physically to realize its form. -Isamu Noguchi The artists in a ceramic class have been given a challenge by their instructor- to throw a ceramic pot on the wheel completely blindfolded, relying on only their sense of touch to achieve balance, thickness, and form. One woman believes she is able to center the clay easier with only her sense of touch to guide her. It is almost as if our sense of sight, which we usually give priority to in the visual arts, actually hindered her ability to achieve balance in her work. The artist Lorenzo Ghiberti though sculpture could not be discovered by sight, but only by the touch of the hand passed over it. When I taught ceramics at the high school level students were constantly plagued by wobbly wheel thrown vessels. When the lump of clay is wet, spinning in your hands, with your elbows locked, wrists and legs braced, it seems so apparent that it is a physical process. When students were unable to center the clay before starting to form the piece, I would ask them to close their eyes so they could feel if it was balanced. I often do this myself when the clay is close to being centered but I want to make sure it is ready. The students, who before were unsure if the clay was ready, could immediately feel what their eyes could not discern. The Root-Bernsteins explain, Only when the thing we manipulate is no longer other but an extension of I does it obey our will and desires (179). As artists work in clay, feeling the balance of the form, its weight and texture, they have to understand how clay thinks, how it changes as the water inside evaporates and what its limitations are and when they can be pushed. Understanding your medium is knowing how it will respond to manipulation before you do it- in other words, making it an extension of yourself. Auguste Rodin said that his preliminary sketched were, to test to what extent my hands already feel what my eyes see. His body had to become so familiar with

his subject that the responses could become automatic, such as the automatic physical knowledge of riding a bicycle or driving a car. Understanding the form of his subjects was important, but also important was knowing how the human form can express the internal mind. Dont you see, he wrote, that, for my work of modeling I have not only to possess a complete knowledge of the human from, but also a deep feeling for every aspect of it? I have, as it were, to incorporate the lines of the human body, and they must become part of myself...only then can I be certain that I understand. His sculpture, The Thinker, expresses the intensity of creative thought, from the furrowed brow, the tense muscles, event the gripping toes. The physicality of the body is expressive of the mind. Classroom Connections Students throw a ceramic vessel blindfolded. Students are blindfolded and hold a sculpture, trying to guess what it is. Students are given an object to hold, but not told what it is; then the student tries to sculpt what they felt, even if they dont know what it was.


"In almost all cases, the point of a model is to make accessible something that is difficult to experience easily." Root-Bernstein

I am continually amazed by how complex seemingly simple tasks can be. Modeling my garden plan allowed me to play with many variables easily, which was important considering each type of plant has a different planting and harvest time, a different growth habit, a different need for supports, space, fertilizers, and produces different quantities of food at different times. By modeling my garden, which is a 20 by 60 foot plot in my back yard, I was able to see how plants interacted without spending years getting to know each type of plant. "Perhaps the most important thing that modeling dow is to provide the modeler with complete control of a situation, object, or idea --or, conversely, to reveal explicitly where control or understanding is lacking

(Root Bernstein p. 230)." The computer model above I created in an on-line program called GrowVeg, which allows the user to create any dimension, add a

huge variety of vegetables, fruits, trees, herbs, and flowers, then to see how critical information such as planting times, harvest periods, and watering needs compare. By providing this complex information in a simple color-coded graph the messy and time consuming world of growing plants can be understood in a simplified model! Modeling, as I have used it, has an incredible use in presenting complex information in a form that can be easily manipulated so the effects of the changes can be readily observed. The skill of modeling relies on other sophisticated mental processes. Root-Bernstein writes, "Models that "stand in" for the "real thing" depend upon analogizing and abstracting (230)." Modeling can be seen when architects create scale-model, when artists create maquettes, or when children create entire towns out of play blocks. These small scale replicas give the creator a sense of the whole that they may otherwise be unable to experience, especially as each piece can be rearranged easily. Henry Moore, the famous abstract sculptor made small maquettes, or three dimensional sketches of ideas he would later sculpt on a large scale. "I prefer to do a sketch-model, hand-size that you can turn around and control, as though you were God." As a gardener I appreciate how the cognitive tool of modeling can be used to play with ideas before deciding on a course of action. I was able to play with the overall layout and design were my walking paths would be without actually having to do the physical work! Classroom Connections: Students experiment with the GrowVeg program to design a school garden and greenhouse. Students create a scale model of their house, school, or other familiar building. Students create a series of models, starting with sketches from various angles, progressing into a small maquette, and eventually a full scale sculpture.

PLAY: EXQUISITE CORPSE The sense of play is the essence of inventive activity. Invention begins in the joyful, free association of the mind.
-Root-Bernstein, pg. 250

Creativity demands that we experiment without knowing where our decisions will take us. The cognitive skill of play, while it may seem to be frivolous compared to to other skills in the text, seems to be the most important. Not knowing the destination, and yet traveling down a mysterious road is when discovery occurs, and I think for new and exciting ideas to emerge we must be fearless in our exploration. Root-Bernstein writes, The power of play is that it reveals the nature of worlds that might be and sometimes are, testing the limits of conventional practice by inventing alternatives (pg. 260). In the art room I see my students playing quite often, and I encourage them to take risks, experiment, and to just see what happens. The art game Exquisite Corpse is a great way to play with associations, connections, and collaborate with others. The sense of play is the essence of inventive activity. Invention begins in the joyful, free association of the mind (pg. 250). The surrealists first used the basic premise as a writing game, combining words as random with in a grammatical structure to create wholly unplanned for sentences. In art, the game is played withe several artists, each drawing just part of a body. They do not know what the others have created; a dog, a fish, or a person, yet creates their own additions. The results are fantastical! When I use this assignment I allow them to modify and refine what was random into a more intentional project, with just one persons vision unifying the initial drawings. This project is a game, but it also asks students to see three disparate drawings as one creature or person. Root-Bernstein notes, Because transforming involves any

combination of imaginative tools and disciplinary expressions, any exercise that fosters their interaction can be beneficial (pg. 289). I chose this game because students have to accept that they cannot plan for the end result, their finished project is dependent upon the ideas of others, the interaction between the groups ideas, and the associations between the parts. The collaborative component of play seems crucial to learning. When I watch the kindergartners on the playground I am often surprised to see how their play with each other is really when they learn the most important lessons about sharing, being honest, and fair. Childs play is in fact where incredibly important learning takes place.