What Inspires You?

While it’s great to fol­low tried and true plans for a suc­cess­ful Art les­son, it can be fun to come up with a new project on your own, based on some­thing that inspires you. Where do you get inspi­ra­tion from? It’s dif­fer­ent for every­one, but any­thing that catches your eye (from the shapes and pat­terns of nature to the shad­ows cast on the build­ing next door) can offer poten­tial for a great Art expe­ri­ence with your students.

I recently attended an exhibit by world renown glass artist Dale Chi­huly at the De Young Museum in San Fran­cisco. The two pic­tures in this post are of his work, the first a glow­ing assem­blage of vibrant glass forms installed in the ceil­ing above us and the sec­ond a “for­est” of col­or­ful glass in a variety of shapes and sizes. (I apol­o­gize if my images are blurry, but flash pho­tog­ra­phy is not allowed in the museum.…click on the artist’s link to go to his web­site for bet­ter pictures!)

While the entire exhibit was like a feast of “eye candy”, these two images in par­tic­u­lar inspired me with ideas for an abstract Art les­son. They got me think­ing about using oil pas­tels, lay­ered together over black paper, to achieve rich col­ors in a vari­ety of inter­est­ing shapes. I look for­ward to try­ing out this idea soon!

So, the next time you see some­thing that just seems to res­onate with you, view it as a poten­tial Art les­son! First, con­sider what it was about it that caught your atten­tion. Then, think about which art medium could best cap­ture this and what prin­ci­ples or ele­ments of Art you can teach through it. And of course, try it out your­self before teach­ing it to your stu­dents! If the thought of all that over­whelms you, sim­ply share your enthu­si­asm for what you saw with your stu­dents! Show pic­tures if you have them and explain why that par­tic­u­lar thing inspired you. Even if it’s just the shadow on the build­ing next door, stop and point it out to your stu­dents and dis­cuss it with them. Part of good Art train­ing involves teach­ing our stu­dents to “see like artists” and to really notice and engage with the world around them. Shar­ing what inspires YOU (whether in the form of an Art les­son or just by point­ing it out) is a great place to start!

glass art by Dale Chihuly

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3 Responses to What Inspires You?

  1. erica September 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    i had so much fun on fri­day!! that exhibit was the coolest … not to men­tion the windy bridge walk & see­ing craig’s work in a real star­bucks!!! thank you again!

  2. Anonymous February 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I have done a 3D project based on Dale Chi­huly and the kids love it! All you need is clear plates or cups that are num­ber 6 plas­tic, sharpies, and some way to heat them up. I used an inex­pen­sive heat gun I found at a tool store, but you can also use an oven. The only catch is that you have to use num­ber six plas­tic. The way you can tell is by look­ing at the recy­cle sym­bol on the bot­tom of the plas­tic, and there should be a 6 inside. Using per­ma­nent mark­ers allows light to still come through the plas­tic, and allows the kids to cre­ate awe­some designs of their choos­ing. I always show a video about Chi­huly prior to give them inspi­ra­tion. Any­ways, I just thought I would share because the stu­dents really enjoy watch­ing the plas­tic melt into their chi­huly inspired sculp­tures, and it’s one that they never forget!

  3. TeachKidsArt February 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Wow — this sounds amaz­ing!!! I can’t wait to try it! Do you have any pic­tures of stu­dent work you could share??

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