Creating Dynamic Compositions in High School Art
Providing interesting subject matter for planning & creating compositions is important for art teachers to do. I had envisioned doing this mixed media motorcycle art project for several years & was so grateful to find someone who was willing to bring their motorcycle up to our school so my high school students could draw it! I wanted something to really challenge & provide a super interesting subject to teach composition to my high school art class. This project could also be adapted to a middle school level by simplifying the composition or using a bicycle instead of the motorcycle.
Prior to drawing the motorcycle cycle in their sketchbooks, we had a review lesson on composition, the Golden Mean, & the Rule of Thirds. We use the rule of thirds in almost all of our compositions beginning in upper elementary. We also studied the artist Kathleen E. Dworak www.kedwatercolors.com who has visually interesting motorcycle watercolor paintings.
The two main objectives in this project were drawing accuracy & creating a dynamic composition using the Rule of Thirds. I am very proud of my students-below are a few of my student’s artwork ranging from 9th-12th grade!
Pre-Instruction Art TECHNIQUE Lessons:
Dry Pastels Lesson Plan & Worksheet
Charcoal Techniques Lesson Plan & Worksheet
Acrylic Painting Techniques Lesson Plan & Worksheet
Watercolor Pencil Techniques Worksheet
Ultimate Watercolor Techniques Lesson Plans & Worksheets
Motorcycle Mixed-Media Art Lesson High School
Supplies: motorcycle or bike, view finders with Rule of Thirds made from transparencies, drawing supplies, painting supplies, various art supplies & paper supplies, digital camera or iPads
- Define composition in the visual arts.
- Define emphasis, observe how it is applied to visual art.
- Identify 6 ways to create emphasis.
- Use selective cropping to develop a strong composition.
- Create an accurate drawing from direct observation.
- Create an original composition using the Rule of Thirds to place the focal point.
- What is composition in art? Composition refers to how the artwork is put together. It is how the artist INTENTIONALLY used the elements and principles of art to create the artwork. The placement of objects within the picture plane is not an arbitrary act, but is the result of calculated decisions.
- Emphasis: Emphasis can also be called the focal point, it is defined as the center of interest in a picture.
- 6 Ways to create emphasis: Placement (Rule of Thirds), Contrasting color, Contrasting size, Contrasting shape, Contrasting texture, Isolation
a. Discuss & view examples of artwork illustrating the 6 Ways to create emphasis
- Cropping: cropping is the act of cutting away unnecessary or unwanted portions of an image to help focus the viewer’s attention and even help tell a story.
- Discuss the importance of composition in art & explain the Rule of Thirds. Show examples of art & photos that have used the Rule of Thirds as a base.
Activity/Instructions: Direct Observation Drawing of Motorcycle
- Allow students to walk around the motorcycle to choose the viewpoint they like best.
- Use viewfinders to position the focal point in one of the Rule of Thirds. Have them take a photograph of their exact viewpoint. I allowed them to use an iPad camera with the Rule of Thirds guidelines turned on to take their pictures. Drawing from real life is the best method of learning drawing accuracy! Drawing Observation Skills!
- They then spent an hour drawing a rough sketch of their composition in their sketchbooks.
- The next class We printed out a 8×10″ color picture for them to work from (since we only had the motorcycle for one day).
- They chose two mediums to create their art. Some suggestions were: Ink & Watercolor, Acrylic & ink, Charcoal & ink, Colored Pencil & Ink, Pastel & charcoal, etc.
- They drew the rule of thirds on their 18×24″ paper (various paper/canvas depending on the mediums they chose).
- Then drew their compositions using a simplified grid method of drawing.
- Next they rendered their compositions with their chosen mediums, thinking through which one to use first. When finished we matted & displayed them & the reaction from the school was awesome!
The entire project took us 8 weeks of 1.5 hr classes meeting every other day-a long project, but absolutely worth it!!
If you choose to use this lesson or to repost it (written info or photos), please link it back to my blog. I, Michelle C. East am the creator of this lesson. Create Art with ME
Additional Technique Lessons:
Pen and Ink Techniques Lesson Plan and Worksheet
Colored Pencil Techniques Lesson Plan and Worksheet
Oil Pastel Techniques Worksheet
Basic Watercolor Techniques Lesson Plan & Worksheet
Advanced Watercolor Techniques Lesson Plan & Worksheet
Additional HS projects to check out:
Types of Balance Cut Paper Collage
Watercolor Flower Painting Lesson
Beyond the Border
Mixed Media Still Life
Watercolor Butterfly Graphic Style
Watercolor Pouring Portrait
Sliced & Diced Forms Drawing Project