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Fantasy Designs

Explore literature in a visual way by discussing the abstract artwork of Frank Stella. Create a Fantasy Design based on your classroom’s current reading material.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Explore the “The Symphony” by Frank Stella with the students. This work of art was inspired by Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. Notice that the swirls and curves mimic the ocean waters in which Moby Dick swam. Discuss how the imagery in this piece relates to the book.
    2. Engage the students in a discussion about what happens when they read a story. Do they imagine the characters acting out each scene? Do they envision the scenery, surroundings, and colors? What sparks these visions?
    3. How can the mood or emotion of a story be captured visually? Discuss a book the students are currently reading and give examples of tone, mood, and emotions in that book. In what forms, shapes, colors, and textures can those examples be visually represented? Refer back to “The Symphony” for inspiration.
    4. Instruct each student to create a multi-media work of art capturing the motion and emotion of a book he or she is currently reading. Encourage students to experiment with a variety of products like Crayola® Metallic Colored Pencils, Crayola® Watercolor Pencils, Crayola® Twistables® Slick Stix™, Crayola® Oil Pastels, and Portfolio™ Series Oil Pastels.
    5. Demonstrate several blending, smudging, and texturing technique to inspire students’ creativity. Also try using products on alternative surfaces. For example, Slick Stix glide beautifully over Foil Gift Wrap, and Metallic Colored Pencils look great on black charcoal paper. Stain Advisement: Slick Stix contain pigments that may stain clothing, fabrics and other household surfaces. Wear a smock to protect clothing and cover your work surface with newspaper.
    6. For a layered or collaged effect, cut out swirls and shapes and attach to the design using Crayola® No-Run School Glue.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

    LA: Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

    LA: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    Add a writing component to this lesson and assess student comprehension by instructing students to write a paragraph explaining the motions and emotions of the book represented in their Fantasy Designs.

    Display the students’ artwork around the classroom and discuss each piece. What common elements can be seen in the designs? Encourage students to explain the inspirations for their designs. What interesting and unique art techniques were used?

    Students write a creative short story using descriptive language. Create an abstract cover for the story in the style of artist Frank Stella.


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