Independent Projects, Part 2

Independent Projects - a great way to encourage high school art students to think creatively and pursue their own projects.
Acrylic paint, oil pastel

During the second semester, it has been amazing to see how my students have used the different materials and techniques I’ve introduced to them to create Independent Projects. This student began a painting of butterflies using acrylic paint. She was stuck deciding what to do for the background. At the end of class she grabbed a couple pieces of paper, asked for some oil pastels, and said she knew exactly what she was going to do. She came to my room the next morning to show me the finished project!

Independent Projects - a great way to encourage high school art students to think creatively and pursue their own projects.
Acrylic paint

This is a special piece of artwork because it marks the transition of one of my seniors. First semester, I had a conversation with him – “I know art isn’t your thing, but you have to pass this class to graduate.” He stopped laying his head down in class and slowly started engaging in the assignments. This Independent Project is the beginning of him really embracing his creative side. We had just finished making paper-cut artwork. He created the painting and decided to use an Xacto knife to carve designs out of it.

Independent Projects - a great way to encourage high school art students to think creatively and pursue their own projects.
Wood transfer

I love watching my students explore new techniques on their own. A student in my 4th period class told me that he wanted to try transferring photographs to pieces of wood. I showed him how to do it, and the project took off like wildfire. I’ve had 5 students in that class create a wood transfer of their own photograph. What I love about this project is the way it connects with my students’ everyday lives. This student used a photograph of her quinceanera.

Independent Projects - a great way to encourage high school art students to think creatively and pursue their own projects.
Wood transfer

The wood transfer process is fairly easy, but does take several days to complete. This video is an excellent guide if you are doing it for the first time. If you ask your local print shop to print the photo out as an “engineer print” it is much cheaper and the paper is thinner, which makes it easier to scrub off. After the students scrubbed off all the paper and let it dry, I had them finish it with several coats of furniture polish.

Independent Projects - a great way to encourage high school art students to think creatively and pursue their own projects.
Spray paint

When my student told me he wanted to paint a valve cover to display in his room, I had no idea what process he should use. He did some research on the internet and talked to our Auto-tech teacher to figure out his plan. I loved that this project gave him the opportunity to experience what professional artists do when they have an idea, but aren’t sure of how to proceed. He painstakingly taped sections so they would stay raw metal and then spray painted the rest.

Downloadable Planning Worksheet: Independent Project Form, Independent Project Brainstorm

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