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“No Context” Cartooning

Lesson Theme: How can text dictate imagery? Grade Level: 5 (adaptations can be made for higher or lower levels)

Time: Three class periods (120 min. total, based on 40 min. class)

Lesson Overview:

Through the completion of the lesson objectives, the students will become confident in pairing text with drawn images. They will understand the process of investigating phrases and word bubbles to begin their own works of art, and will understand that different students can have different interpretations of the same phrases and artworks.

Visual Culture Component:

Students at one time or another have engaged with cartoons, whether it be on the backs of milk cartons in the cafeteria or in a magazine or newspaper. As part of the motivation for the lesson, the students will engage with the “funnies” section of a newspaper or other forms of age- appropriate comics. The class will be asked to generate a list of similarities between the comics they looked at (hopefully generating distinct lines, colorful, word bubbles, etc.). This will lead to a discussion about artist Marius Valdes’ “No Context” drawings, and the artistic process of using text to inform artwork. Since Valdes is a contemporary artist, it may be possible to have him record a description of his art-making process.

Learning Standards (based on National Core Arts Standards):

VA:Cr1.2.5a - Identify and demonstrate diverse methods of artistic investigation to choose and approach for beginning a work of art. VA:Cr2.2.5a - Demonstrate quality craftsmanship through care for and use of materials, tools, and equipment. VA:Re.7.1.4a - Compare one’s own interpretation of a work of art with the interpretation of others. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.7: Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text.

Lesson Objectives:

  • - The student will investigate how text can be used to inspire or dictate a drawing.

(VA:Cr1.2.5a)

  • - The student will create a cartoon focused on two randomly-chosen text bubbles, with a focus on humor and craftsmanship. (VA:Cr2.2.5a)

  • - The student will conclude that their interpretations of text or the artwork of others may differ from the interpretations of their peers. (VA:Re.7.1.4a)

Academic Vocabulary:

  • - Cartoon: A simple drawing that may covey a message or story in a humorous and exaggerated way. The drawings may often be combined with captions or text.

  • - Context: The circumstances in which something is understood or interpreted.

  • - Interpretation: What something means to you. We all interpret things differently because of our different experiences.

  • - Craftsmanship: The quality of artwork.

  • - Outline: A line that defines the outside of a form.

Historical/Cultural/Artist Information:

Marius Valdes is a contemporary artist based in Columbia, South Carolina, and is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Illustration at the University of South Carolina. Originally trained in graphic design, Valdes moved towards mixed media fine arts in graduate school, with the introduction of “The Unwantables”. The Unwantables morphed into his Secret Species, which has involved clay figures, branding and packaging, painting, traditional drawing and computer graphic techniques. His series of “No Context” drawings frequently involve animals and these secret species, interacting with word bubbles and quotes from different comic books.

- Interpretation: What something means to you. We all interpret things differently because of our different

drawing

Questioning Strategies:

Leading Response Questions: Who has read cartoons

before? Which part of Valdes’ artwork or the text?

came first, the

Information Process Questions: What do the cartoons we are looking at all have in common? Why can we have different interpretations of the same thing? Productive Questions: What kinds of colors do the cartoonists tend to use? What kind of lines are used, are they very detailed? If we were to all use the same word bubbles to inspire our images, would our images all look the same? Why is it so important to practice good craftsmanship?

Lesson Procedures:

Day 1

  • 1. Motivation: See Visual Culture Component. (15 min.)

  • 2. The students will draw two speech bubbles out of a hat. They will use the phrases they picked

out to inspire two different cartoon scenes that incorporate the text, and will draw the scenes on

their scrap paper. When finished, they will pick their favorite of the two drawings. (20 min.)

  • 3. Allow 5 min. for cleanup.

Day 2

  • 1. The students will review the characteristics of a cartoon, touching on the simple colors and defined outlines that many cartoonists use. (5 min.)

  • 2. The students will create a 1/2” border around their final paper, and will draw their favorite cartoon within this frame. (15 min.)

  • 3. The students will use colored pencils to color their drawings, making sure to color neatly and evenly. (15 min.)

  • 4. Allow 5 min. for cleanup.

Day 3

2.

The students will engage in a peer review as a form of assessment (see Evaluation/Assessment). (10 min.)

  • 3. The class will share some of their interpretations, and discuss how different people can interpret cartoons in different ways. (10+ min.)

  • 4. Allow 5 min. or less for cleanup.

Evaluation/Assessment: A rubric will be created to serve as a summative assessment (see attached). As a formative assessment, the students will conduct a peer evaluation. They will be asked to look at a peer’s cartoon and write their interpretation of the work. They will then rate their peer’s craftsmanship from 1-4 (same as the teacher’s rubric) and explain why they gave the rating they did. This will allow the teacher to be sure that the students understand the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship. Their understanding of cartoons will be evident through their final product, and is already heavily embedded in their daily culture.

Materials and Teacher Preparation:

  • - Project Materials

    • - Drawing Paper, standard size

    • - Pencils/Erasers

    • - Scrap Paper (Manilla, Construction, or Newsprint)

    • - Colored Pencils

    • - Black Fine Point Sharpie Markers

    • - rulers

  • - Teacher Materials

    • - newspaper comics/comic books (cut out to fit the

    • - Sample Project

    • - Projector (to view Valdes’ work)

    • - Print of Valdes’ “No Context” Poster (from Secret Species Series 4 Show at Miami University ’15)

    • - Black construction paper (to back final drawings for display)

  • Resources:

    http://www.artlex.com/ - Comprehensive visual arts vocabulary resource. http://mariusvaldes.com/ - Marius Valdes’ artist website. http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/art/directory/studio/valdes - Faculty listing for Valdes, includes artist statement. http://nationalartsstandards.org/ - National Core Arts Sandards

    Accommodations for Special Populations: For students with dyslexia, all written information will be read aloud, including their speech bubbles if need be. Large grips may be added to drawing supplies and rulers may be taped down for students with motor problems. Further accommodations may be made based on the specific class needs.

    Rubric: This is a basic outline of a potential rubric. It may be altered and added to to suit the teacher’s specific needs.

    Use of Text as Inspiration

    Craftsmanship

    Participation & Writing

    (4) - The text is clearly used to inspire the cartoon.

    (4) - Completed project displays excellent craftsmanship. Lines and coloring are perfectly clean and defined.

    (4) - The student’s participation and writing indicate a complete understanding of the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship.

    Use of Text as Inspiration

    Craftsmanship

    Participation & Writing

    (3) - The text relates well to the cartoon drawing.

    (3) - Completed project displays good craftsmanship. Lines and coloring are clean and defined.

    (3) - The student’s participation and writing indicate a strong understanding of the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship.

    (2) - The text makes sense for parts of the cartoon but not for the cartoon as a whole.

    (2) - Completed project displays fair craftsmanship.

    (2) - The student’s participation and writing indicate some understanding of the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship. (Or understanding of one term)

    (1) - The cartoon was clearly not inspired by the text bubbles, and they do not make sense with what was drawn.

    (1) - Completed project displays very little craftsmanship. Lines and coloring are not clean and defined.

    (1) - The student’s participation and writing indicate little understanding of the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship.

    (0) - The one or more of the text bubbles were not

    (0) - Project appears to be incomplete, with little to no

    (0) - The student’s participation and writing

    included in the drawing.

    regard for craftsmanship.

    indicate no understanding of the meaning of interpretation and craftsmanship.

    Or

    The student did not participate in the peer evaluation.