Art Core Skills Lessons

By The Arty Teacher - June 10, 2018

When teaching a course which is an independent course of study, such as GCSE or A level here in the UK or choice based courses in other countries, how do you keep students motivated, creative and moving forward? I found great success with delivering one-off core skills lessons.

What are Art Core Skills Lessons?

Art core skills lessons are one-off lessons in which students stop working on their independent work and instead experience a workshop-style lesson that teach them new practical skills or creative ways of thinking.

What are the Advantages of Art Core Skills Lessons

  • Students who may be stagnating, working slowly or lacking ideas are invigorated.
  • The fast pace of core skills lessons shake things up!
  • Core skills can be fun and full of risk-taking without jeopardising important coursework, therefore rejuvenating/reinforcing a student’s love for the subject.
  • New skills and techniques can then be applied to independent work going forward.

Examples of Core Skills Lessons:

Arrange your classroom so all students are standing at a desk or easel facing the wall-screen/computer whiteboard. Provide a range of papers and a range of drawing media. Project images (eg. skeletons, skulls and bones) for short, timed periods (between 30 seconds and 3 minutes) and ask students to draw in various media on different surfaces. Include different types of drawing too, e.g. contour drawing, continuous line, blind contour etc. At the end of the lesson, students pic their best drawings, perhaps 3, to be immediately displayed and discussed. This is an ideal core skills lesson at the start of a project where you still want them to be completely experimental.

Another example of a core skills lesson would be to get each student to send you a successful photograph from their independent project. Don’t tell them what you are planning! Print out the photographs so each student has 10 – 15 copies. (Yes, this is a lot of work, but it pays off) Challenge the students to alter the photograph in one lesson in as many ways as possible, aiming to fill a double-page spread in their sketchbook. Provide a range of media and tools to select from. When doing this, I usually demonstrate that something as simple as cutting an image in half diagonally, off-setting it, changes the visual language and the way we ‘read’ the image. I give them the basic information I have written here and then say ‘1, 2, 3…go!’.

The example below uses very little media, but employs cutting, tearing, and tape in different ways. Its presentation on black paper on the left and white on the right, make it striking.

I’d love to hear from you if you deliver ‘core skills lessons’. How do you approach this? Contact me here.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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