Activities that explain and define the elements of art
The visual arts constitute a discipline, a branch of knowledge. An art education curriculum includes, then, every aspect of this discipline. Lessons that explain and demystify what is experienced when art is made or viewed help build confidence, curiosity, and the desire to expand one’s definition of what art is. I called these lessons “Special Work.” How to express an idea is a challenge for each artist. The artist’s observers have the joy and exhilaration of seeing the results. The immediate experience of a work of art at times gives rise to questions in the mind of the observer. In his book “Criticizing Art”, Terry Barrett defines two complementary ways of gathering information as being internal and external to the work of art. Internal information is gleaned when one actively looks at or experiences a work of art. The observer describes what is seen and felt so as to appreciate what is found in the work itself. The information can relate to its subject matter, medium, or to the way its idea is expressed (realistic, abstract, or non-objective). How an artist uses the elements of art and principles of design accounts for how varied and exciting art can be. External information is gathered from sources outside the work itself which are spoken, written, or recorded on film or video. If you are fortunate, you may even be able to speak with the artist. An artist’s biography is often a big clue to understanding the origin of the work produced (Monet, Calder, M.C. Escher). Quotes from artists also reveal their thinking and attitudes about their work and art in general.