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What Catches Your Eye?

September 20, 2021 | Clara Buckley

How do artists emphasize a focal point?

Students begin this year with a study of the principles of design. This study gives the children a shared vocabulary to discuss and analyze works of art. As well as covering Visual Arts Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work, this study helps students speak kindly and with purpose when critiquing each other’s art work.

Emphasis: In works of art, visual emphasis is placed on the most important parts of the work – the focal area. This is the part the artist wants to first catch your eye.

Artists use many different techniques to create emphasis; value contrast – light and dark, color contrast, difference/unexpected elements, detail, positioning, pattern, size variation, shape variation.

For real-world examples students looked at book illustrations by Lois Ehlert and Brian Selznick. Students determined the focal point of the illustration and the techniques the illustrator employed to emphasize, draw our eye toward, that part of the artwork. Students chose to explore one illustrator’s chosen medium, this week pencil or collage. 

This knowledge will help the children when they create illustrations for their summer read, Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri. This is part of the November art exhibition for the seventh and eighth grade classes. Expect to hear more information shortly about the exhibition from [email protected]

Clara Buckley

Teacher, Rivers Class; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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