Lesson Ideas to Build Creativity and Reduce Inhibitions
(Inspired by the techniques of Florence Cane)
Sounds of Synesthesia
In this activity, teachers use the deep ringing sounds of Tibetan singing bowls to inspire their students to see colors and images in their minds. Students will sit in a circle around the teacher with black paper and chalk pastels on their desks. Students will close their eyes and clear their thoughts as they listen to the sound of the ringing bowl as it gets louder and softer, faster and slower, and try to picture the humming of the tones in various colors, shapes, lines, and/or images. After listening in silence to the singing bowl for 5-10 minutes, students will open their eyes and draw the colors, lines, shapes, and images that burned in their mind during the listening activity. Students can spend their time finishing one composition or may make multiple compositions if they have time. Teachers may also choose to have a couple students play bowls alongside them if they have access to multiple bowls of different sizes. This way a new sound of tones playing off one another and building in strength can be visualized.
In this activity, students are given instructions to place a single scribbled line on a white piece of paper. The line can be long or short, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved, angled, etc. Students should be directed to place the line where the space seems the most filled. Then each student trades their paper with another student who will sit back from the work, gazing at it and turning it to view the composition from all four sides. Students should see a different image appearing with each directional change of the paper, much like gazing at shifting clouds. Students will choose the strongest of the four images to complete the image by redrawing into the surface. Once the drawing has been completed by the second student, teachers should have them write a short paragraph in a journal that explains the image made from the scribble along with possible meanings that the image could have for themselves.
Field Trip to the Unconscious
During a class field trip, have students take along their journals to record observations and impressions of the field trip site as it relates to their 5 senses. They may also choose to sketch scenes or objects from the trip. On the next day after the class trip, have students sit quietly in the room, closing their eyes, and ask them to try to place themselves back at the scene of the field trip. Encourage them by asking them questions about what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted, or felt. Ask about colors, specific sounds, textures, etc. After 10 minutes of silent recollection of the memory, have students fill out a worksheet, listing the top 5 sights, top 5 sounds, top 5 tastes, top 5 scents, and top 5 feelings that they feel sum up the trip as they experienced it. Have students attempt to illustrate 1 sense from each top 5 list using non-objective, abstract color and line. This should result in 5 different compositions, 1 representing each sense. After a class presentation of these works and a reflective student critique, have students to create a final abstract composition that combines elements from each of the 5 drawings into 1 completed work that they feel represents the spirit of the place they visited.
For this activity, teachers place various single objects into brown paper bags. These objects should have different shapes, edges, textures, and sizes. Each student will receive a mystery bag and will be allowed 10 minutes to explore the object in the bag by using their sense of touch only (NO PEEKING!). After they feel that they have "gotten to know" their object the best they can, ask them to remove their hand from the bag and attempt to draw the object from 3 different angles, so as to visually describe the object to someone who has not seen it. Encourage students to choose their colors, line quality, and textures wisely to describe the contours of their object. Engage students further by having them fill out a worksheet that asks various questions such as: What do you think is the color(s) of your object? Why? What material(s) do you think your object is made from? How many pieces are there to your object? What do you think the object is used for? What is something from your life that you think is similar to this object? If you could have 3 adjectives to describe this object to another person, what would they be? After pondering these questions, have students to draw a final artwork that includes pieces of their object sketches in the work. Try to show the purpose of the object and any meanings of the object in the final work. After all artworks and worksheets are completed, allow students to open their bags to see their object. Have them record their thoughts about what the object actually is, if they were correct with their guesses about the object, and how their feelings about their object have changed.
Carousel of Composition
In this activity, students will be given a circular piece of white paper and will be allowed to choose their "key" color of marker. Students will place a single line of their choice within the circular tondo that they feel breaks the circle into parts (this will show their sense of balance). Afterwards, each student will stand up and seek out the circle of another student that they feel is the best "match" for their own circle. After each student is standing at the circle of their choice, they will add a line to the composition of their peer's work using their chosen color that they feel breaks the circle into another set of parts. Students will then change circles again, choosing a circle with colors and line quality that they feel best complements their own circle. This can be done any number of times (at the teacher's discretion) until they feel the circle has been broken enough and the composition is completed. Lines do not have to be straight, do not have to reach across the circle completely, do not have to cross each other, or be equal in length. Each student will return to their original circle and complete a zentangle within the broken spaces to complete the work. They may only use colors that are seen in the original lines, both their own and others key color choices.
Now You See Me, Now You Don't
For this assignment, students will be asked to study one of their teachers or peers for a single period of time, listing facial qualities and sketching the teacher as realistically as possible. (This will be done with the teacher's or student's consent first). Upon returning to class another day, students will be asked to draw a caricature of their chosen teacher/student using only their written notes about the features of their face. This will encourage their observation skills to look for more shapes, lines, and details within a person's face. If students are not satisfied with their caricatures after the first attempt, they may repeat the process on another day.
Roadmap of the Mind
For this activity, students will sit in a quiet, dark room in front of a blank sheet of paper, vine charcoal sticks, and a kneaded eraser. Teachers will ask students to close their eyes and think about the last time they were genuinely happy. They will ask leading and guiding questions to the student, asking them to write down where they were, who was present, the situation, what they were wearing, what others were wearing, smells, tastes, sounds, etc. that were present, and why they think the situation made them happy. They will open their eyes and journal about their answers to these questions as they are asked. Then they will be asked to draw an image that best represents their answer to that question in a quick, loose, 1 minute sketch, either objectively or non-objectively. Each sketch for each new question will be layered on top of the last one. After the exercise is over, students will be asked to smudge, blend, redraw lines for emphasis and selectively erase lines from their conglomerated images until they feel the space is evenly filled with values and lines in an abstract composition. Have students to sit back and peer through their work until they see an image form and then have them work to bring forth that image. Then have them journal about the final image and ponder connections that the image has to the initial memory or emotions that they associate with it. Have students share their images and discuss their memories as a group. Repeat the process using different emotions each time (the last time you were angry, sad, depressed, excited, anxious, etc.)