marvin bartel '99

Alternate Ideas About

Teaching with the Composition and Design Page 

Marvin Bartel

Back to Composition and Design
Elements, Principles,
and Visual Effects


WHAT IF you do NOT SHOW the Compostition and Design Elements, Principles, and Visual Effects page to your students before they do their own experiments at inventing/developing their own lists of visual elements, principles, and visual effects based on their own observations with art materials, photography, and so on? All of the phenomena shown on this page can be learned experientially by posing questions that can be answered by working with art materials.

Do you think it is good to show students an example before students do their artwork? Should they memorize the elements and principles of design and composition, or should they learn them experientially. There are different ways to teach art and develop creative minds. This page suggests ways to use the art class as a place to teach students ways to generate their own original art ideas for artwork.

Our brain's have mirror neurons. We have an instinct to learn by imitating and copying. This page proposes what things are better to learn by imitation, and what things may be better to learn by discovery, invention, and how to construct one's own knowledge. Neurology now says that the mind is formed by experience (practice). Thinking habits generate new neurons. If we copy we learn to copy. If we practice using our imagination, we develop a stronger and more competent ability to use our creative imagination.

"Reinventing the wheel" is not a bad or inefficient thing in an art class because it can be a way to learn the art of invention. When we practice a particular type of thinking that part of the brain becomes stronger. As art teachers, do we want copy-work and rote neurons developed by copy-work practice and authoritarian teaching of facts about composition, or do we want minds that know how to form good questions, good experiments, ways to invent solutions, and so on?

Teaching Creativity practical ideas for teachers to consider - There are many ways for students to experiment to develop their own list principles related to visual effects. Using questions, an art teacher can teach visual awareness and thinking without first listing the elements and principles as some sort of laws or rules. Everything on this page can be taught with open questions and experiments. Students do not have to come up with the answers on this page in order to have learned about elements and principles. Students who construct their own knowledge are learning how to think, they are more apt to become passionate learners, and much better equipped for real life. A standard list of concepts such as shown on this page can be shown at the end as something for them to discuss in relation to what they have developed.

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See Andy Goldsworthy's Six Elements of Visual Art to show and discuss AFTER students have done their own creative work.
Also see: Text by Simpson, J.W. et.al. Creating Meaning Through Art . 1998, Prentice Hall, pp. 87-88, 113.

 If you liked this page, try one of these.  
Learning to Think Artistically contents page
Percy Principles of Composition - - my personal list of principles - as an artist - - what are yours?
How to Plan Art Lessons
- getting things in order to foster artistic thinking and creativity
Common Classroom Creativity Killers - what we do everyday that discourages creativity
Teaching idea generation

All rights reserved.  Contact the author for permission to reproduce or publish. Photos, layout, and text Marvin Bartel 2000 - author bio
updated June 14, 2010

Back to Composition and Design
Elements, Principles,
and Visual Effects

Goshen College

Art Dept


Drawing to Learn DRAWING

by Marvin Bartel - 2010 - is Now Available


This is a book written for kids who can read who want some good ways to practice their drawing skills. Us older folks who still want to learn new stuff can also use this book. It is also great for artists who want some ideas on how to help children learn to draw better. If you are an artist, you could start a Drawing Camp or some after school art classes using the ideas in this book. Parents can use this book plan a really cool and creative kids art party.

It is a low-cost online pdf downloadable book. You can read it on the computer or print it out.

See the order page for a
Table of Contents and more about this book