The Artist's Toolkit explores the tools artists like to use, e.g. line, color, shape, space (linear and atmospheric persepctive), and movement and balance to build works of art. The site is interactive, animated, and allows users to create works based on the tools that they have learned about.
Type of Material:
To supplement an art course.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Students will be able to identify the key visual elements and principles that go into constructing a work of art, such as line, color, shape, space, balance, and composition. Students will learn discipline specific vocabulary including linear and atmospheric perspective, warm and cool colors, and positive and negative space.
Target Student Population:
Middle School, High School, and College.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The web site is divided into three sections: 1)Explore the Toolkit, 2) Encyclopedia, and 3) See Artists in Action. In Explore the Toolkit students can watch an animated demonstration, find exammples of the concept in works of art at various museums, and create their own composition. The Encyclopedia is an in-depth guide to learning more about visual elements and principles using works of art as examples. Artists in Action allow students to watch two short videos of professional artists creating original compositions using the visual elements and principles described in the Encyclopedia and Toolkit. The site does a good job making the vocabulary of visual analysis accessible and interesting to students.
Site authors should make clear that much more goes into the understanding and analysis of a work of art than just a description of its formal properties such as its historical properties.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The three components of the Artist's Toolkit: Explore the Toolkit, Artists in Action, and Encyclopedia allows both students and teachers a range of creative options to supplement an art course. The site has excellent interactive elements. Interviews with artists Ta-Coumba Aiken and Judy Onofrio are major assests of this site. The animations are very engaging for students. The animated explanations of visual elements are followed by an opportunity to see elements in a work of art from a museum collection. This is a plus!
The site should make clear that much more goes into understanding a work of art than just one's reaction to it or the visual and formal elements of the work. The context in which a work of art is viewed is enormously important to understanding how we react to it, read it, in addition to the historical and cultural context to fully understand the object.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
All interactive elements work well. It is fun exploring this site and even faculty not in the field of art will learn a lot from the site. The site is easy to use and requires almost no download time for the animation.
Other Issues and Comments:
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