Finding Poetry in Art

By Shaw, Annita | Arts & Activities, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Finding Poetry in Art


Shaw, Annita, Arts & Activities


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This is one of the most comprehensive projects my students have ever done. We begin by talking about artists and the impressions students have of them. Students spend a full class period browsing through art reproductions found in various magazines I have collected, laminated and added to every year. They look for an artist whose lives and work they enjoy, and sign up for that artist.

The following day, they continue to research their artists using computers, the library and my collection of art books. After choosing a piece of work done by the artist, they take notes on him or her and the piece. Their research should reflect interesting facts unique to the artist or their work, answering the "who, what, where, why, when and how."

POETRY IN MOTION Students are to create a "Diamente" poem for both the artist and selected artwork. The format of the poem is as follows: Line 1--one noun; Line 2--two adjectives; Line 3--three participles; Line 4--four nouns; Line 5--three participles; Line 6--two adjectives; and Line 7--one noun (a synonym for the first line).

From their research, students select words to fit the requirements of the poem. They may work with their peers, their parents, ask for a teacher's help, and even read it aloud to the class for suggestions. One student expressed his opinion when reflecting on his chosen work: "'The Gulf Stream," by Winslow Homer captured my interest by expressing the violent nature and dangers of a dynamic sea. Homer displayed a spectacular scene with a stranded man and created a sense of real danger from this painting. I prefer dynamic action and suspense in art that brings it to reality."

If their work is done well, dropping Line 1 and Line 7 would still allow the artist or the piece of work to be identified from the clues. Using a computer, each of the final poems is to be printed on a separate sheet of paper using 12- or 14-point type. If students do not finish within the allotted time, this becomes homework. Otherwise, they will not have enough time to do the painting.

THE PAINTING BEGINS Students first attach a sheet of 18" x 24" drawing paper to a drawing board. They divide this very lightly with a No. 2 pencil into a 2-inch grid, 9" wide x 12" high. Next, they prepare the window mat. Using card stock or mat board as a frame, and clear plastic or laminate for the window grid, they create a half- or quarter-inch square grid (9" x 12") using a permanent pen.

Students then place the grid window mat over the selected piece of the artist's painting to find the section they'd like to reproduce, remembering to select a good composition. They then trace this composition on the window mat using a fine-tip permanent marker. …

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