Pieces of a Whole

On a recent Sunday I gave each of my students two blocks of a Van Gogh puzzle that I wrote about in my previous post.  I also gave them two larger, square pieces of paper. They were to draw the side of the cube that I placed in front of them. I tried to make sure that each was sitting away from the group so that they didn’t know where the drawings would lead. And I made sure that no one got two connecting pieces.

We had been working for some weeks in different drawing issues – in line, shape and space, in value (which is light and dark), texture, and other concerns. And this felt like a nice culminating project for the fundamentals we’d been discussing. Each person had to reproduce their section of painting using each of the elements we’d discussed in the class.

As students finished a square I quietly picked up their work and hung it in proper placement. Slowly, as people finished their second squares it became clear to them what they’d been working on. They had given much focus and intention to their two small blocks and their two drawings, and had been deeply involved in their own work. They never knew that they were working on something much larger.

Seeing the finished process was a delight for everyone! It felt more meaningful than just fun. We saw how different people represented similar things in different ways. Each section of the whole drawing was a perfect translation of Van Gogh’s portrait by each of the artists in the class. Everyone showed the group another possibility.

Melissa Weiss