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Kentucky Educational Television
Lesson Plan
Gesture Drawing

Activity: Creating a Watercolor Painting Based on Gesture Drawing

Video: Looking at Painting, Program 2: “Expressionism”

Grade Level: middle school

Length of Lesson: about 5 class periods

Web Site Resources: Mark Priest biography and five paintings beginning at gallery page 40

Segments: Mark Priest speaking about ...

26:22-27:21  what he likes about figure painting
29:31-31:23  his process (sketches, painting directly, media)

Concept/Objectives:
Students will:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of proportion using gesture drawing as subject matter. (AH-M-4.1.33)
  2. demonstrate an understanding of personal expression as a purpose for creating art. (AH-M-4.2.32)
  3. create a painting using elements of art and principles of design. (AH-M-4.1.41)
  4. create a painting using a variety of processes and media to communicate ideas, feelings, or experiences. (AH-M-4.1.34)

Questions To Guide Your Instruction
Ask these questions of your students:

  1. What is a gesture? What is the purpose of gesture drawing?
  2. What are five activities that would make good gesture drawings (e.g., basketball games, dance classes, etc.)?
  3. How can emotions be shown through gesture drawings?
  4. What tools work best for gesture drawing?
  5. How does Mark Priest use gesture drawing in his painting?
  6. Why is composition so important in Mark Priest’s painting? Why should you consider it important in your own work?

Kentucky Core Content for Assessment:
AH-M-4.1.31, AH-M-4.1.34, AH-M-4.1.39, AH-M-4.2.31, AH-M-4.1.32, AH-M-4.1.35, AH-M-4.1.41, AH-M-4.2.32, AH-M-4.1.33, AH-M-4.1.37, AH-M-4.1.42

Critical Vocabulary:
aesthetic: imitational, expressive, formal
cropping
composition
gesture
variety
art elements: space (positive and negative), line, shape, color
principles of design: movement (rhythm), balance, emphasis, proportion, unity

Instructional Strategies
View two segments focusing on Mark Priest from Looking at Painting Program 2, “Expressionism.” Have students critically discuss what they have seen using the guiding questions.

Explain that lines can have an implied visual meaning:

      horizontal = safe
      diagonal = action
      spiral = depth

These lines can be helpful in exploring an expressive aesthetic. Remind them that aesthetics is the nature of the beauty in art. There are three basic aesthetics: formal (concerned with the elements and principles of art), imitational (concerned with replicating nature), and expressive (concerned with emotions or creativity).

Explain that students can develop their studio skills as they practice gesture drawing. The lines showing gesture are quickly drawn. They should be sketched freely and loosely, almost recklessly, in order to capture the model’s movement. Unlike contour drawing, they represent the interior of their subject.

As they practice gesture drawing, students should concentrate on showing position (balance), proportion, and movement. Ask them to evaluate their progress after several attempts. They will develop their final composition of sketches into a finished painting using watercolors.

Activities
Here is a suggested outline for completing this lesson in five class periods:

Day 1:

Demonstrate: Have a model pose, point out the position to the students, and trace the main line of the model in the air. Then trace the wrinkles in the fabric of the model’s clothing. Using the side of a marker, quickly record your “air drawing” onto paper.

Remind the students to look before they draw. Then have the model take a new pose, point out the lines of the body position, and ask the students to draw it quickly. (Give them 30 seconds.) Remind them of these points:

  • No outlines or details.
  • Observe the model’s pose.
  • Notice the proportion of the head to body, arm, and leg length.
  • Draw with the side of your marker.
  • Make the line of the position first, then draw the head (not too big). Next, draw in the folds and wrinkles of the clothes.

Make a series of 30-second gesture drawings. Ask students to number their drawings. They should try to improve their observation skill as they practice their drawing.

Have students take turns modeling. Ask the models to twist, turn, and extend arms and legs in all directions so that their poses are interesting from all points of view.

Monitor the students’ progress.

Day 2:

Students continue to work on gesture drawing. Direct them to vary the sizes of the sketches and rotate their paper as they change models to create a more interesting composition.

They should have four to eight drawings on each page. They need to fill their paper with poses.

Days 3 and 4:

Finish the best compositions with watercolors. Students should choose to use either warm or cool colors for their gestures and the unchosen color group for the negative space surrounding them. Direct them to use three colors on each pose to give more volume and form.

Day 5:

Class critique: All students participate in a discussion of one another’s work using art terms and the four-step critical process (describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate).

Materials
18 X 24" 100# white sulphite paper
watercolor paint
china markers or permanent markers
water and water containers
drawing boards or cardboard pieces a little larger than the paper

Support/Connections/Resources
Looking at Painting web site (www.ket.org/painting)

Assessment and Scoring Guide
Prompt: Gesture drawings use line, shape, and space to show movement (rhythm), balance, and proportion. A successful composition exhibits emphasis and unity. How have you explored the expressive aesthetic in your artwork? Include line quality, proportion, division of space, compositional planning, and color choices in your answer.

Directions:

  1. Students view Kentucky artist Mark Priest’s segments in Program 3, “Expressionism,” of the Looking at Painting series.
  2. Students create a gesture drawing.
  3. Students discover the purposes of art (expressive).
  4. Students paint their compositions showing emphasis and unity.
  5. Students select and plan a composition using variety.
  6. Students create a painting from their gesture drawings using warm and cool colors.
  7. Students analyze the proportion of a model’s pose.
  8. Students critique the finished paintings.
4 
  • The student creates a painting of her or his gesture drawings using warm and cool colors.
  • The student fully explores the expressive aesthetic in the finished artwork, including line quality, proportion, division of space, compositional planning, and color choices.
  • The student designs an effective painting that clearly reflects an understanding of all of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects the student’s best effort and effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows all directions and always asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an active participant in the class critique, and his or her remarks reflect a clear understanding of the project.
3 
  • The student creates a painting of her or his gesture drawings using warm and cool colors.
  • The student somewhat explores the expressive aesthetic in the finished artwork, including line quality, proportion, division of space, compositional planning, and color choices.
  • The student designs a somewhat effective painting that reflects an understanding of most of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects good effort and somewhat effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows most directions and usually asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is a fairly active participant in the class critique, and his or her remarks reflect a clear understanding of the project.
2 
  • The student creates a painting of her or his gesture drawings using warm and cool colors.
  • The student acceptably explores the expressive aesthetic in the finished artwork, including line quality, proportion, division of space, compositional planning, and color choices.
  • The student designs an acceptable painting that reflects an understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects acceptable effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few key directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an acceptable participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a general understanding of the project.
1 
  • The student creates a painting of her or his gesture drawings using warm and cool colors.
  • The student minimally explores the expressive aesthetic in the finished artwork, including line quality, proportion, division of space, compositional planning, and color choices.
  • The student designs a painting that reflects a minimal understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects minimal effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an inadequate participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a minimal understanding of the project.
0 
  • The student doesn’t complete a painting.

This lesson was prepared by Franzee Dolbeare and Cyndi Young.


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