I don't think I've been this happy with the results of a lesson in a LONG time... this may go down as one of my top 5 fav lessons ever. Thanks to everyone who gave input into the lesson design process and for the many of you who expressed an interest in Franz Marc I would highly suggest using him as a spring board for student art.
I put a lot of class time/prep into this lesson and I think it was well worth it. I made two slide shows about Franz Marc...one more about his life and one more focused on looking for the elements of art in his work. Students had to follow along with handouts for both slide shows. They also had to work individually and in groups to brainstorm personality traits that went with 12 animals and 12 colors. We did practice coloring with the oil pastels to understand how to apply them thick and use value and we talked extensively about how to choose the colors we used in our work of art.
In the end each student had to choose an animal that symbolized them along with a color or selection of colors that symbolized them. They had to be able to write about AND verbalize to me why they choose both their animal and color before moving forward. I also asked for the animals to be in a position that related to the personality traits (crouched for shy, slinking for sly, looking upward for positive....so on). Each animal had to have light, med and dark of the color used. Each animal was to be in an environment and student's were to use the complementary color of their animal in either a space that touched their animal or in a large part of their background.
Beyond that I tried to back off and let each student draw in the style they wanted and go about coloring how they wanted. I did ask several students to outline their animals in black or a dark color so they would stand out. I wish I had asked this young lady to do so as her AMAZING dolphin is a bit lost in her equally cool background.
I was really surprised by how far the students pushed themselves and how inventive they were. Really I think with middle school students you get better results when you back off and give them some space to do their thing. They get so much more invested in the process.
To end it all I made them write a formal artist statement about their work....their least favorite part and come up with a title for their work....a part they did enjoy. This lesson re-confirmed my belief that Crayola oil pastels are superior to all others that working on either letter size or a tinny big bigger sized paper is perfect for most middle school student attention spans and that the more choices you give a student regarding a lesson the better things will turn out.
I will admit to meddling in one part of this lesson. Many students just could not draw big enough to make a good composition. I admit I took about 75% of the student drawings to the photocopier and enlarged them. I feel ok with this choice. I also allowed students to look at a LOT of how to draw books to help them draw their animal.
I really hope a lot of the kids will choose this to be their work of art that hangs in the spring art show...but I won't pressure them because I really want it to be their choice.