Magazine article Arts & Activities

Celtic Roads

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Celtic Roads

Article excerpt

Building upon lessons learned is relevant to art and life. As an art teacher dealing with teens, I try to give my students an understanding of art as a window to the "big picture" as well as a practical, relevant skill. I developed this lesson plan, "Celtic Roads," with that objective in mind. The success rate is high, the product is fabulous and the pride factor is evident.

At the beginning of the lesson, I give a brief history lecture using a PowerPoint slideshow of ancient Celtic monuments, artifacts, examples of Celtic-influenced Christian art and architecture. Also included are current Celtic-based designs on CD covers, posters and body art. During our open discussion during the slideshow, students come to the natural conclusion that there exists a flow of inspiration through past, present and future.

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Some teachers hesitate to show a finished project sample before studio work begins, but I find, given a dramatic flair, a grand revealing of the end product will spark enthusiasm--especially with student-made samples from former years. I tell students they will be referring to previous handouts, such as texture exercises and the color wheel. Again, lessons from the past are revisited.

Everyone gets three sheets of white photocopier paper for initial designs, and each sheet is folded into quarters. In one quarter-size section, the student draws two interlocking ribbons or "roads," taking care that the roads make closed negative spaces toward the paper's open edges. Conversely, the roads should be open and run off of the folded edges. This allows roads to connect throughout the design.

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I do not allow use of rulers or compasses, but rather instruct the students to estimate half an inch (or the width of a fingernail) for the width of the roads. Designs are drawn with ebony pencil or soft graphite drawing pencil. The paper is folded and refolded back onto itself, and the outside is rubbed for graphite transfer to all quarters. Retracing to reload graphite is likely necessary.

A midpoint grade is taken on completion of all three designs. With my guidance, the artist picks a favorite and it is graphite transferred onto a large sheet of watercolor paper. The copy paper is temporarily secured with low-tack tape.

Next, the student carefully removes the copy paper and retraces all graphite lines with a fine-point permanent black marker. All remaining graphite is gently erased when finished. Using color theory knowledge, the student chooses either a cool or warm color scheme to fill the interior of the roads. This is done in either Prismacolor pencil or crayon as a resist to the upcoming watercolor background. I demonstrate blending techniques and circulate among the artists as the coloring process takes place.

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When the first student is ready to move into the watercolor stage, I demonstrate the wet-into-wet technique for the background. …

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