ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota Resources

Sample Lesson

What's Your Point of View?

For students in grades 2 - 5

Objective
Students experience and learn the names of several conventions for representing space in two-dimensional media*; understand that artists choose among many possibilities; look critically at many images on the ArtsNetMN website; and draw a familiar object from one of the viewpoints studied.

*Paintings and drawings are examples of two-dimensional media. The artist works on a flat surface; its two dimensions are height and width.

Materials
Writing paper, pencils or pens
Drawing paper, pencils, and erasers

Procedure

I. Discussion and small group sorting activity
Using the ArtsNetMN image in italics, lead a discussion about the unique qualities of each of the following:

Bird's eye view - the artist places you, the viewer, high up, as though you are looking down on everything; tops of things are bigger so they appear nearer. Anthony Green, The Beautiful Dream

Worm's eye view - the artist places you, the viewer, down low, as though you are looking up at everything; bottoms of things are bigger and seem to be nearer. Berenice Abbott, Murray Hill Hotel

Renaissance perspective - the artist creates the illusion that you are standing in his or her picture; all lines converge at a single point on the horizon, the "vanishing point". Canaletto, The Grand Canal, Venice

Multiple perspectives - the artist might paint each thing from a different point of view! James Rosenquist, World's Fair Mural

Working in small groups, have students examine other two-dimensional ArtsNetMN images and decide which, if any, of the above viewpoints the artists have used. Students should note, in writing, those visual features that are consistent with the ideas identified in the initial discussion. Groups of younger students may fill in a "Points of View" worksheet that lists each work of art to be studied, and has a column, with a space for a check, for each of the four points of view listed above.

II. Drawing activity
Divide the class into at least two groups and have each group choose a 3-dimensional object (a desk? a chair? a bookcase?) that they will all draw. Each student is free, however, to draw it from whichever viewpoint he or she prefers.

Display all the chair drawings together, desk drawings together, etc. Let the children talk about what they discovered about their object because of the viewpoint they selected.

Assessment

I. Discussion and small group sorting activity
Grade students on a scale of 1 (did not participate) to 5 (displayed understanding of concept verbally and in writing) on the following ideas:

a) viewpoint is chosen/manipulated by the artist
b) the artist determines the viewer's position
c) bird's eye view is from above; tops of things are bigger
d) worm's eye view is from below: bottoms of things are bigger
e) Renaissance perspective has a single vanishing point on the horizon
f) some artists mix up perspectives in a single work of art

Other works of art on ArtsNetMN that students should be able to correctly categorize:
Bird's eye view
Berenice Abbott, Broadway to the Battery
Worm's eye view Chuck Close, Big Self Portrait
Renaissance perspective Louis Lozowick, New York; Vincent van Gogh, Olive Trees
Multiple perspectives no other 2-D examples, but they may talk about Frank Gehry's Weisman Art Museum as looking as if it was designed from multiple perspectives!

II. Drawing activity
Grade students on a scale of 1 to 5 based on:
a) accuracy of understanding of the principle of the viewpoint selected (i.e., if it is "worm's eye view," bottoms of things should be bigger than tops of things), not quality of drawing
b) quality of discussion about discovering things that are unique to a particular point of view

Grading scale:

1 2 3 4 5
did no work got started understands
1 or 2 ideas
understands
most ideas
understands all ideas

Bonus point: If student discusses point of view in O'Keeffe's Oriental Poppies and supports his or her thoughts with references to visual evidence (Oriental Poppies does not strictly conform to any of the four categories outlined in the lesson, but the "close up" vantage point does bring the nearer parts of the flowers into sharp focus, while other parts, slightly farther away, are blurred.)

Click here for instructions to submit a lesson of your own.

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