Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Constraint: One Word Projects

One word:  "Juicy!" (colored pencil)

I recently read Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind by Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter).  There are some great ideas about creativity in there.  
Chapter 4: A Short Lesson in Constraint was my favorite. 

One word: "Precipice" (acrylic paint)

A couple of quotes from the book: 
p.54  “Constraint inspires creativity.  Blank spaces are difficult to fill, but the smallest prompt can send us in fantastic new directions.  There are stories supporting this all over the place.”

p. 57  “ Embrace your constraints, whether they are creative, physical, economic, or self-imposed.  They are provocative.  They are challenging.  They wake you up. They make you more creative.  They make you better.”

Two words: "Innocent and Sinister" (colored pencil)


This is the idea behind the “one word” assignments that make up half of my Art Portfolio class.  Every other project in Art Portfolio is just one or two words that students can express in any interpretation, idea and medium they choose.  This gives us a good balance of more directed learning (in the other half of the project assignments I give) and the development of
personal style and self expression.

Art Portfolio and Art Portfolio 2 are the most advanced classes I offer.  When students reach this point, they have been slowly working toward autonomous and independent art exploration.  I used to let students completely design their own projects, but I often ended up with half-hearted, unoriginal work.  It was just too overwhelming for them when I would say, “Make whatever you want!” without some guidance.
Two words: "Innocent and Sinister" (pencil)


When I give them the smallest amount of guidance, in the form of a word or two, they are off and running in interesting and unique ways!

Some words we've recently used:
Juicy
Precipice
Empty
Bountiful
Shatter
Mystery
Fresh
Irony
Heat
Beginning
Quiet

(I labeled below each of the photos, but it is not showing up well.  The above artworks used the following words:  1) juicy  2) precipice 3) innocent/sinister 4) innocent/sinister.)

I keep my eyes open for words that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Its so fun to see what the students will come up with...and very gratifying to see how much they and their ideas have developed through the years!  
Happy Creating!