I have often struggled with teaching art history and making it entertaining and educational for my students. Let's be brutally honest, I hated art history in high school. Anytime my teacher would start talking years and artists, I totally zoned out. It wasn't until college that I began to understand and appreciate it. And actually enjoyed my classes. I loved learning all the little secret parts and pieces in drawings and painting or the stories behind them. I realized that the most important part about artist history was not memorizing it, but finding things that made you remember it. So as a high school teacher I feel like its my job to figure out a way to teach art history and make it memorable for my students.
Today we began a new era of art in our Art History class. The Renaissance. My art history course is more of a basic first year art class where we combine the study art and artists with project based applications. I don't follow an art history timeline when teaching this class. Instead I work with eras that I think the students will enjoy. I have found that they are a lot like I was in high school, if i bombard them with dates, times, places, etc they zone me out. What they will listen to and remember is that Poor Ginevra was 16 and married a middle aged man, but yet another man had her portrait commissioned. Or that Leonardo was only 6 years older than what they are now when he painted her portrait. I want them to learn about these artists and the paintings, rather than memorize for a short period of time. We are focusing on Michelangelo and Da Vinci for this unit. Today is one of our Fun Friday days in which we are watching a DVD about the painting Ginevra de Benci and the history and mystery behind it. Put out by the National Gallery the students actually paid attention to it because of its mystery. Kinda Fun.
On Monday, we will be beginning facial proportions and beginning to look at and draw out portrait contour line. Wish us luck and I will keep you posted!