Illuminate Your Life with Art-History Lampshades

Article excerpt

A great way for students to learn about artists and remember what they have learned is to incorporate hands-on work into their art-history lesson. I wanted my middle-school stu- t dents to research painting styles of artists and then remember what they had learned. Out of that desire came this lesson.

I had my students bring lampshades to school. I had explained to the students a few weeks prior to this unit of study that we would each need a lampshade. I told them it could be an old one from home or they could get one from a thrift store or garage sale. It could be any size, any shape and any color. I didn't give them any more information than that because I wanted to raise their curiosity level. (A couple of students couldn't find a lampshade, so they improvised and made one from tag board.)

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The day the lesson started, I showed the students several lampshades in several different shapes and sizes. I also showed them a few I found on a Web site that were painted and designed in a "funky" manner. Then, I explained that we would be doing research on famous artists and their styles in the library using computers, books and magazines.

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Each student was to choose an artist whose style he/she liked, because each student was going to design and paint a lampshade in that artist's style.

Next, to give the students added incentive, I showed them a lampshade I had painted in the style of Henri Matisse. After showing the lampshade to the students, they were ready to get started. I had never seen them so anxious about art history!

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When we returned to the art room with information and examples of the artists work in hand, I demonstrated priming the lampshades with gesso. We did this to seal the material so the paint would not seep through. This works in the same way you would prime a canvas before painting it. White latex wall paint can also be used.

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When the gesso was dry, the students began to sketch their design onto the lampshades. This was a unique experience because while all of the students have drawn or painted on flat canvas, none of them had done dimensional Am painting in this manner before. …