Curriculum: What will we be learning about?
The rationale for art education on which this curriculum is based recognizes art as one of the major domains of human learning and accomplishment. It holds that a balanced general education requires a fundamental understanding of art as part of the aesthetic domain of human experience. The National Standards for Arts Education, developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations in response to federal legislation of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, state clearly that "in any civilization--ours included--the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term, 'education.' No one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowedge and skills in the arts." This view recommends a balanced curriculum that derives it's content from the art disciplines. This position is widely held among art educators and other art professionals as well as among many leaders in general education.
Drawing and painting are probably the most pervasive of all art activities engaged in by children. Through these two modes of art making, children participate in the exploration of media, the creation of symbols, the development of narrative themes, and the solving of visual problems. The emphasis in contemporary art education is on the expressive aspects of both responsive and creative experience, with support and instruction by the teacher appropriate for the levels of development of the children.
Children produce drawings and paintings that say something about their reactions to experience and heighten their abilities to observe. Drawing is also a precursor to the development of writing skills. Certainly, when taught effectively, drawing and painting activities are universally enjoyed and provide a very flexible and practical means of expression for the young at all stages of artistic development.
Painting and Printmaking:
Painting, like drawing is at the heart of the studio experience, both in terms of children's participation and the history of art. Although there are numerous modes of art production, it seems that even from prehistoric times drawing and painting were practiced. The marks of drawing and colors of painting are found on virtually every natural and fabricated object that provides an appropriate surface, from masks to tree bark and paintings on cave walls, to painted pottery, painted dwellings, and graffiti currently found on every available surface in many of our cities.
Drawing, painting sculptures, and ceramics are very old modes of art, whose origins exist prior to historical records. Printmaking might have occurred during these early times, when our distant ancestors colored the palms of their hands with pigments and pressed them against cave walls. However, the art of printmaking as we know it today required a technological innovation that is less than two thousand years old. This was the invention of paper, which is required for the making of prints. Paper was invented in A.D. 105 by a Chinese man named Ts'ai Lun.
Three-Dimensional: Sculpture, Ceramics, and other 3-D forms:
Art that extends into the third dimension includes sculpture and ceramics, which in some ways overlap as art modes. Some sculpture, for example is made of fired clay and can be considered ceramic sculpture. Ceramics includes pottery made of fired clay, and it even overlaps with sculptures, as some pots exhibit fine sculpture qualities, some are purposely nonfunctional, and sometimes pots are used as components in sculpture. Ceramic pottery is an ancient art mode and also one of the most universal; pots are found that were created far back in time and in all parts of the world.
Art Criticism/Appreciation: Looking, Reading & Talking:
If we accept the fact that critics as well as artists can be models for artistic study, we must think about how critics operate. There are journalistic critics who write for the general public and who avoid the more profound level of writing, and there are critics who work for art journals who are knowledgeable in history and aesthetics and use language in such a way that criticism itself becomes an art form. The goal of all critics is the same: to provide the readers with information regarding an artist or an exhibit and beyond that, to help the readers to increase their understanding by viewing art through the informed eye that good critics are assumed to possess.
The word appreciate means "valuing" or having a sense of an object's worth through the familiarity one gains by sustained, guided study. Appreciation also involves the acquisition of knowledge related to the object, the artist, the materials used, the historical and stylistic setting, and the development of a critical sense.
Scientists may define color as an effect of physical forces on our nervous system through impact on the retina. To painters, however, color is far more complex. It is a vital element closely related to all the other design elements. The sensitivity with which painters use color can convey a personal style and the meaning of a particular work. Ultimately it can influence the varied responses of viewers to a work of art.
The painter's color terminology also differs from the physicist's, whose primary reference is light rather than pigment. In art, a consistent terminology has come to be accepted as a means of discussing and using colors, both in looking at works of art and in producing them.