Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elements of Art, Principles of Design - all found in nature


If I were still teaching this fall, I would begin with a variety of lessons, at different grade levels, all using images from nature, in particular those that show rhythm, movement, pattern, and repetition. (Though it would be also hard to ignore some texture, color, shape, form, balance, contrast, harmony, value, etc.) The fact is, when I started editing photos I shot this summer, those particular elements I picked out above repeated themselves over and over again in the images from my camera. (Note: all photos in this post were either shot near Kennebunkport Maine, or in my little marsh in Loon Lake - one of many Loon Lakes - in the Adirondacks.)

I like to instill in students the understanding that the Elements of Art and Principles of Design are not just WORDS. We see them in nature in our daily lives. They are not something we have search hard to find, and we do not need to invent them on our own. It is all right out there waiting for us to notice.

We just need to tune up our observation skills, stay still, or move quietly. If we are always in a hurry, there's so much we will miss. The little frog below, the first I have ever actually seen sitting on a lily pad (how cool is that?!), was no more than 2" long. Look at the intricate patterns on his little body! Or on the shell or belly or neck of the turtle! I feel privileged that they welcome me to visit their home in the marsh. The photo on the right below is coastal Maine.


I found myself fascinated, on a beach in Maine, watching the tide come in gently and the patterns in the sand change over time. As a matter of fact, I wanted to take more photos of the ripples and foam seen in the photo on the left below, but 10 minutes later when I returned they were gone, all covered in water. The lily pads on the right are from my marsh visit.


I've received some questions about what kind of camera I use, and I want to tell you, I do not have anything fancy or pricey. It is just a little Canon PowerShot SX120, and while I would LOVE to have a nice digital SLR, in the meantime I think what I have performs quite well. So I'll close with a cute photo - 'just hanging out'.

12 comments:

  1. These are awesome shots! My theme this year is art in nature...nature in art! Would it be okay to print some of these off to use in my classes???

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    1. Yes, go ahead and use the photos, but please give credit - explain they were taken by an art teacher just like you!

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  2. Beautiful pictures!! I LOVE the turtle shot.

    Jen
    adayinthelifeofthisartteacher.blogspot.com

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  3. The photos are gorgeous! Does it feel strange not going back to school? :)

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    1. Don't really know yet... Though by this time of year I've usually spent a lot of time prepping my classroom. Instead I've been outside painting our shed! I don't feel end-of-summer pressure.

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  4. I know I've said this before, Phyl, but you have mad skills in the photography dept.! I would definitely use your photo's as a way of showcasing the elements and principles, with your permission of course. I will get a big kick out of telling the kids that I have a friend in upstate New York, that I've never met before, who is a retired art teacher who takes beautiful photo's of nature that just happen to illustrate art terms. They will have a million questions, but I'm sure I can tell them all about you!

    :)Pat

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  5. Thanks, Pat. Most of my readers wouldn't know this, but my first 8 years teaching were in a high school, where, along with other art courses, I taught photography (black & white darkroom). I had been hired because I had a college photography concentration. But that was the days of silver photo labs and manual cameras.

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  6. I also spent a lot of time this summer taking photos I plan to use in teaching this year. Wish I had the funds to give each child a camera to go out and find his/her own examples of Art Elements/Principles!! I found that the search was an enriching experience from which kids would benefit, too!!

    I don't start seeing students in my program until the third week of school. I must say that this was the first year (this is my third year of official retirement) that I didn't feel a tug to be at school that first week! I did stop by the first day to help out, but won't be back there for a few more days yet:))

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  7. Oops I didn't finish typing. What I wanted to say is this: I'm untrained in digital photo, and often frustrated with all the automatic stuff, but never remember how to manually change settings in time for what I am photographing.

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  8. Hey Phyl, I was looking at a blog post today and it reminded me of your nature photos... have you ever seen Gennine's art blog? The site is: blogdelanine.blogspot.com
    She takes beautiful nature photos and uses them as inspiration for her art work. She does beautiful birds! Check it out!

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  9. Hi Phyl

    These are gorgeous! Very inspirational. I will be teaching photography to grades 3-6 this year as we have gone 1:1 iPad in those grades. My first choice is to have them find and shoot principles and elements. I will use your photos as examples!

    Rina

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