Posted on 09/03/2019 at 09:25 AM by Blog Experts

Melinda Moen teaches art at Western High School in Southern California. Her classes have 40 students, many of whom are English learners or have special needs. At the 2019 Summer Art of Education Conference, Melinda shared her artmaking process.

First, Moen calls her students artists and her classroom an artists’ studio. She engages her students in projects, with choices embedded whenever possible. The process she follows for all of her projects is:

Artists are expected to:

  • Come up with ideas
  • Select their own materials and tools
  • To create
  • Engage and persist
  • Revise, edit, and reflect
  • Meet a deadline and share your work

To help students come up with ideas, Moen has students sketch, experiment, and brainstorm. She emphasizes that students have to create, as she said that often her students think they don’t have to produce work in her class. She conferences with students individually after they have sketched their ideas. She also has them engage in peer editing as they revise, edit, and reflect on their work. She emphasizes deadlines, as this is something they will have to deal with in the real world. She also has them share their work around the school.

For many of the projects students complete, they have to address a social issue in their artwork. Moen has them brainstorm issues that affect their local community or their state, as she feels they may know more about something closer to home. To brainstorm, groups of four students share a large piece of butcher paper, all writing ideas in their corner of the paper. They share as a small group, and then they share on the white board with the large group. On the second day of the project, Moen has students bring in one news article that addresses the social issue with the student’s point of view. They have to find three pieces of evidence from the article. Next, they brainstorm images that go along with that issue and then sketch three different ideas. 

Once students have sketched their three ideas, Moen conferences individually with the students to ensure they are not just illustrating the problem, but are raising awareness or helping to solve the problem through their art. She will ask students, “Tell me about your best idea and how it supports your point of view.” If they are just depicting the issue or if the work is too violent, she points them in the right direction. It is at this stage students need to revise and edit. 

Before students create their final artwork, Moen models for them the entire process. She shows students her research about the social issue, she shows them her bad sketches, mediocre sketches, and good sketches. She thinks aloud as to why the sketches are bad or good, and if they truly address a social issue. For example, during the printmaking project, Moen shared the entire process of thinking about clean drinking water in Africa, her sketches, why they weren’t or were good, and then her final print of a faucet dripping out water in the shape of the African continent. Moen shared her handout for the printmaking project that you can find here

For further information about the artmaking process, you can contact Melinda Moen here:

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