Conceptualism and Frank Stella

Last week we began our second to last project for the year: Frank Stella Inspired Word Art for the Wall we are creating a mixed media work of art that breaks the confines of our usual squares and rectangles. Inspired by the art of Frank Stella, a conceptual “painter”, each student is creating a wall hanging, that uses recycled cardboard, paint, mixed paper collage, and other found materials. This project should take about 4-5 classes, with a presentation on the 6th day.

We began by picking words at random. Each student dropped a random word into a fish bowl as I walked around the classroom and then as I cam around again they chose a new word from the bowl. A lot of them quickly related it to “the reaping” a scene from the hunger games. Possibly because they were nervous about the word they were getting. From this word they made a concept map. You can see some of the example they looked at on our class google doc here: From this map they choose another word, and then had to create a second concept map. This second word, they soon found out, was their title and they were stuck with it and all of the things they associated with it, as the theme for their wall art. 20140424_112207

After the concept maps were complete sketching and construction began. I set out scraps of foam core, cardboard, gesso, acrylic paint, painted paper scraps, cotton balls, mixed paper, magazines, and hot glue, white glue and glue sticks. After taking a good look at Frank Stella, and thinking about what these words meant to us we chose colors, shapes, and textures that we associated with our words. And from there they only had to focus on their idea and how it related to those three elements: Color, Shape and Texture.




My main goal with this assignment was just to give all of my students a firm grasp on what conceptual art was, and had the potential to be: A work of art driven by the idea, not the end result itself. We have spent the year focusing on a lot of new materials, and their techniques, but as a result we had produced a fair amount of representational art. I feel strongly that being able to think conceptually is a real tool they will be able to take with them as they move into other art classes next year.


Kathryn Parvano “Campfire” Mixed Media, 2014



Figure Drawing: Process

So here are some action shots of my students working on their gesture drawings. These drawings were done using two of the elements of art, line and shape, to build a figure that was proportionate and captured the figure’s pose. Students started (last week) with pencil drawings of small mannequins in their sketchbooks. Next, each student moved on to drawing figures with charcoal on large sheets of paper. These larger drawings were done while we stood and worked on boards set on easels. Each student did many gesture drawings of each member of their class in turn. Each of these drawings took a very short amount of time ranging from thirty seconds to two minutes. The final drawing was an observational drawing of a figure that took ten to fifteen minutes total, and I will follow up with a post showcasing those later.





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