Brainwave Expressionism (BWX)


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Premise for research-based art lesson. Defending expressive qualities of lines and colors.

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  • Hi my name is Joan Schlough. I am an art teacher from Koenig Elementary in Two Rivers, WI. Brainwave Expressionism, or what my 3 rd graders call BWX, is the first lesson in a 4 lesson unit based on the concept of passages. In the first lesson students consider their internal rhythms. You’re looking at lines I performed as a preliminary exercise I use in the opening of the lesson. More congratulations are in order this week. Two of your group, Lindsay and Joan presented their work with students here at the conference and did a fantastic job. Dr. Simpson took four MA distance students and put together this session entitled "Graduate Students Respond to Teaching Social Issues in K-12 Visual Arts". BRAVO!!! It was wonderful to meet you and celebrate your teaching. Now it is on to the final two weeks. Take good care, Ruth
  • My themed-based unit with passages as a theme, starts with the BWX, which is an alternative self-portrait in watercolor, using the idea of a brainwave for a composition of line and color as a metaphor for character traits, personality, and feelings. Judith Simpson wrote, “the realization that visual forms allude to, or imply meaning beyond their literal associations leads to metaphorical interpretation .” Further, to not allow “ourselves to think this way is to continue to minimize the importance of our field and its syncretic meaning in education”. (p. 50) Students conceptualize how a wave (or a line) is expressive, how colors express emotions. Does a wavy line express joy, nervousness? Does the color red mean love, anger, or a fondness for strawberries?
  • During the opening we look at actual EEG printouts and pick out active and passive sections. We act out lines that tell stories, portray a feeling, or show different music. (wake up and come to school, learn good or bad news, get a detention, or break a board in karate). I show pictures of children to students, who then draw a line depicting what they perceive another child is feeling. The picture shown allows for a variety of responses.
  • The objectives correspond Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first objective is at the bottom level, or application level. 1. Once students have practiced watercolor techniques on swatches, then they will demonstrate the techniques in their BWX. at the synthesis level… 2. Using brainwaves as a starting point, students will generate the idea developing it into compositions through the use of five thumbnail sketches. and at the evaluation level… 3. Having learned about alternative self-portraiture of other artists, including Oldenburg and Van Bruggen,] and studied expressionism by other artists, [Kandinsky and Van Gogh,] students will be able to discuss the BWX of their peers during critique and defend their own choices of line and color in their own BWX.
  • At the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy is creating the BWX. Nakayla demonstrated the formal aspects of the objectives and has created a feeling of depth with her use of transparency and use of neutrals. Nakayla calls neutrals naturals.
  • Nakayla was retained this year. New this year, is her comfort writing and leadership during the critique. She is confident giving positive, specific, and helpful comments. In her paragraph Nakayla wrote, “I’m happy and I like to jump everywhere. Orange, blue, purple, yellow, and grey are happy colors. Red, black, green, brown, yellow, pink are sad colors. I’m so happy at school.”
  • My name is Caroline…. I picked these colors because they represent me. I put all the dots on my BWX because I have freckles. I did the orange because I’m smart. I did purple because purple is my favorite color. I put green on my BWX because I’m funny. I did red because I’m crazy. I put lime green on because I’m excited! I did the heart because I’m peaceful. Blue is nice. I put brown on because I love chocolate.
  • Dylan is a wonderful writer. He wrote, “I made a colorful desert of blue. Neutrals brown, greens, reds, blacks, yellow, orange, and violet. I made it a rainbow cause I like seeing a rainbow in my house. I tried making cactus, sand, clouds, and the wind pushing the sand.”
  • Janice defends her choices by writing, “I am happy. Brown means I am sad because my grandpa might die. All colors mean I like to play.”
  • This slide shows one of my sample BWX’s, demonstrating white crayon resist. This sample demonstrates the formal aspects as well as the concept of passages, as internal rhythms with a connection to external conditions, and the ephemeral (i fem’ ə r ə l) quality of some emotions. This sample also opens the discussion about what is abstract expression –v- expressionism.
  • Assessments do not occur only at the end of the lesson. The classroom discussions help remediate art vocabulary prior to the critique. [Word wall terms: Wash, wet-on-wet, dry brush, transparency, abstract expressionism, alternative self-portrait, thumbnail sketch] We read the rubric at the end of the first day and at the beginning of the second day before painting. [This lesson can be completed in two days but is better extended into a third 60 minute period to have a longer critique.] Also before painting, students make five thumbnail sketches. An alternative is to make a page full of lines, selecting lines and spaces within a viewfinder. The watercolor techniques on the swatches show wet-on-wet washes, transparency, and dry brush. [Students have existing prior experience with crayon resist and prior knowledge from a color theory unit, which was just before this unit.]
  • Brainwave Expressionism (BWX)

    1. 1. Brainwave Expressionism (BWX)
    2. 2. Alternative Self Portraiture <ul><li>Using the idea of a brainwave to represent one’s internal rhythm, students conceptualize how a line is expressive as a metaphor for character traits or feelings. </li></ul><ul><li>Visual forms imply meaning beyond their literal association ~ Judith Simpson </li></ul>Syncretic Meaning Type of Brainwave hopeful long and rolling joyous medium and hilly industrious short and wavy frustrated short and jagged
    3. 3. Opening
    4. 4. Objectives <ul><li>Application, evaluation, synthesis, and… </li></ul>
    5. 5. Create! Nakayla’s 2009 Navajo Hip Hop
    6. 6. Nakayla’s 2010 Happy Jumpy
    7. 8. Dylan’s Desert
    8. 9. “ I am happy…. Brown means I am sad because my grandpa might die…. … All col or s me an I like to play.” wrote…
    9. 11. <ul><li>Thumbnail sketches </li></ul><ul><li>Swatches to demonstrate watercolor techniques </li></ul>Assessments
    10. 12. Resources Used in Lesson <ul><li>Books: </li></ul><ul><li>Berger, J. (1972). Ways of seeing. London, England: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books. </li></ul><ul><li>Reich, H. (1958). Children of many lands. New York, NY: Hill and Wang </li></ul><ul><li>Time-Life Books (1990). How things work series: The brain. Alexandria, VA: St. Remy Press </li></ul><ul><li>Yenawine, P. (2006). People. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art </li></ul><ul><li>Prints: </li></ul><ul><li>Kandinsky, W. (1914). Painting with three spots. Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Van Gogh, V. (1890). Wheatfield with crows . Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Oldenburg, C. & Van Bruggen, C. (1983). Cross section of a toothbrush with paste, in a cup, on a sink: Portrait of Coosje's thinking , Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching tools: </li></ul><ul><li>Bloom’s taxonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Critique Log </li></ul><ul><li>Rubric </li></ul><ul><li>EEG’s </li></ul>
    11. 13. References <ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Alexenberg, M. (Ed.). (2008). Educating artists for the future: Learning at the intersection of art, science, technology and culture. Bristol, United Kingdom: Intellect Books. </li></ul><ul><li>Alexenberg, M. (2008). Autoethnographic identification of realms of learning for art education in a post-digital age. International Journal of Education through Art, (4)3, pp. 231-246. </li></ul><ul><li>Erickson, L. H. (2002). Concept-based Instruction: Teaching Beyond the Facts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Sandell, R. (2006). Form + theme + context: Balancing considerations for meaningful art learning. Art Education, 59 (1), 33-37. </li></ul><ul><li>Simpson, J. W. (1998). Myth, metaphors and meaning. In R. J. Saunders (Ed.), Beyond the traditional in art: facing a pluralistic society (pp. 48-50). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association. </li></ul><ul><li>Photo Credits </li></ul><ul><li>Brain and waves with light blue background Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Ripples Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Types of waves Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Brainwaves emitting from head Retrieved from </li></ul>