10 Concepts Every Introductory Art Course Should Cover - The Art of Education University (2023)

When planning your curriculum, having a list of amazing art classes to choose from can be incredibly helpful. That's one of the reasons you can find so many in my article,"Everything you need to create the perfect introduction to art studies..“

However, before committing to specific lessons, it is important to have an idea of ​​the general concepts that students are expected to acquire in the course.

Here are 10 concepts that every introductory art class should include.

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In this article, I'm going to talk about an introductory art course that focuses primarily on 2-D artwork. However, many of these concepts can be translated into a course that also includes 3D work.

1. Rules of technology

Before you think about what to teach, you need to consider WHO is teaching it. To be successful in the art space, your students need guidelines, rules, and expectations.

Many art teachers have a whole list ready when students enter their classrooms. But I take a different approach. I foundAsk your students to help you write the rules for the art room.it gives them a sense of ownership. Every year my rules, or laws as I like to call them, change a bit.

However, these 3 always remain the same:

  • A- Act appropriately
  • R- Respect everything and everyone.
  • T– Try… and you will!

2. Art elements

The basic components of the art are important. As much as some art teachers don't want to talk or teachThe Elements, I think they are important talking points to start the school year. To me, not teaching the elements and expecting children to make art is like not teaching the alphabet and expecting children to read and write.

Ice Cream Cone Study Guide

The quickest and most effective way I've found to teach the Elements is through a project I'm calling Ice Cream Cone Study Guides.

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Students find it difficult to remember the seven elements of art.

  • line
  • Schimmel
  • bravery
  • Herz
  • texture
  • Space
  • Schimmel

So I teach my students about the elements using an ice cream mnemonic device.

  • UEcarry
  • Scages
  • vRing
  • CChocolate
  • Tcruz
  • SÖ
  • FSo

But is that enough? I don't think so, so next they're making an Art Elements Ice Cream Cone Study Guide. It's a simple two-day lesson that does a wonderful job of helping students retain this valuable information.

I give each student a sheet of 8.5 x 11 copy paper. They fold the paper three times to make eight rectangles. In the first rectangle they put the title "Elements of Art". You can also give the guide a creative title if you like!

You must then place a different item in each of the remaining sections. For each section, they should look up the definition and write it down in their own words. From there, they can create the study guide as they please.

Eventually, they need to make an ice cream cone to stick with their learning guide. And wow! You have created wonderful artworks that teach our kids a lot!

3. Level curve studies

To be honest, I think the most important thing in art is to understand the contour line. As students understand how to describe the edges of an object visually, they begin to see and draw objects differently.

I usually start with students tracing their hands and then looking closely at the lines on their palms that make up their hands. There are several creative ways to do this. One of the easiest and most successful is to place a foil over your hand and trace it with a permanent marker.

4. Farbtheorie

Color theory counts! Students need to know which colors go well together and why. One of the best ways to teach color theory is to have aOpen Study Daywhere students can experiment with a variety of media. After making mud, they quickly learn which colors don't go well together.

After trying it out, I'll talk about the color wheel and all things color theory. Primary, secondary, complementary, analog, hot, cold, shades, tonalities, etc! The list may seem endless. I recommend spreading these lessons out over a period of time, or allowing students to create their own creative color wheels, as shown inThis article.

And if you're interested, Johanna Russell also shares more meaningful ways to get your students excited about color theory in the PRO Learning Pack.Basic concepts of color theory..

5. Direct observational studies

I think it's important to give the students a small still life project at the beginning of the course. Getting them used to drawing from life helps prepare them for what we call art. Learning to see and draw well are skills that students can use in any other work they create.

You can do or create a traditional still life projectvisual cues from the journalhelping to develop these skills.

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6. Design Principles

When students begin to see the importance of artistic elements, it's time to introduce them to design principles. Put simply, principles are how you organize the items.

In general, the following 7 design principles are agreed upon.

  • balance
  • Contrast
  • main emphasis
  • Standard
  • Unit
  • Movement
  • rhythm

However, there are other principles to consider in the classroom! I also like to incorporate variety and repetition into my classes. Using the first letter of each of these nine principles, I give you another memory device: MR. B.V. CUPER.

Once again, I ask my students to find the definitions of these words mid-semester. Once they've done that, I'll ask them to rate which ones they think are most important, and we'll talk about them. Of course there is no right answer. But it's fun to watch as they engage in lively discussion with art historical prints by the masters.

7. Media manipulation

give studentsopen study daysit is good for everyone's soul. Experimenting with media brightens up the day and reminds kids that there really are no mistakes in art. Also, they can apply what they have learned through experimentation in their future work.

Open study days are also a great time to review your household rules and routines!

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8. Composition

Once students have a good understanding of the basics, it's time to start teaching the art of composition.

The three main ideas I got from my students are:

  1. The "MOP" (middle of the page) is a no-no!
  2. Crop or leave the page to make things more interesting.
  3. Be sure to consider negative space.

Many classes teach composition, but one of my favorites is a still life with shoes. First, ask each student to remove one shoe. Then ask them to create a still life together with their shoes. Students should carefully consider which part of the still life they want to draw, keeping in mind the three ideas above. After students design their shoes, they add mixed media to create original and exciting work.

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9. Visual Diaries

I think visual journals are a must in an introductory art class.Prompt-based visual journalsHave your students practice their drawing and composition skills on a weekly basis. Here, students are encouraged to take risks, experiment, play, draw, add text, collage, and create from the heart.

These magazines become a treasure trove of creative ideas. Students often appreciate them and take them with them on their artistic journey to advanced art classes and beyond. Visual journals are also a great place to add service learning and art history classes to your resume. You can read all about visual diaries in the article “50 visual journaling tips to boost drawing skills and creative thinking.“

10. Authentic Review

The authentic assessment of our students is important! Spitting out definitions on a multiple-choice test isn't my idea of ​​an effective assessment. But practical art courses that definitely check the learning value of a semester! That's why I like to introduce art students to a project to create summative evaluation books. You can read all about it in the article: “Use bookmaking as an authentic summative assessment to engage your students.“

This lesson is the perfect way to see what your students have learned and retained in an art semester. It's one of my favorites!

So there you have it, my top ten list that every Intro to Art course should cover. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you can add. I think it's the most important course we teach, so there's a need to think about what the students really need to take their thinking and their art to the next level.

What are the top things to teach your Intro to Art students?

Do you agree that this is the most important course your students will take? Why or why not?

Journal articles and podcasts are the opinions of contributors in the professional education field and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use the terms as they are most commonly used in the context of their educational experiences.

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