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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Teaching Art to Students on the Autism Spectrum: Follow Me!

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life ~ Pablo Picasso
If you've been following this blog, you'll know that I recently went back to art school ... best thing I could have done to dust off my mental health and start the new year with a fresh perspective. A bonus side effect is that I'm learning new things that I can share with my students on the spectrum.

"Artist" by Adam

I've written previously about the methods I use to teach art to students with a wide range of communication profiles:
Click here to read my previous post on art instruction methods

The method I refer to as "Follow Me" involves sitting side-by-side with your student, demonstrating new materials and techniques step-by-step - showing rather than telling.
Click here to watch a short teaching video demonstrating the "Follow Me" method of art instruction

The class I'm taking at the Ottawa School of Art is an introduction to painting with oils and acrylics, and over the past few weeks, Kevin and Adam have also been learning about how to paint with acrylics, starting with a review of colour mixing and light and shadow (concepts we first introduced when they were in high school art class). We use our art sessions as an opportunity to extend language skills (vocabulary and concepts).

Here are some pictures Kevin drew of cartoon Mr. Bean and Teddy going to art school and learning colour mixing:

drawn by Kevin (Jan 2014)
drawn by Kevin (Jan 2014)

drawn by Kevin (Jan 2014)

drawn by Kevin (Jan 2014)

And now we've moved on to painting still life compositions on canvas boards, using artist quality paints and easels (if you want your students to love making art, you have to give them good quality materials to work with).

Here's some photos of Kevin and I during a recent therapy session:

Kevin and I sit side-by-side, both of us painting the still life - Kevin follows my model
I help Kevin to see the light and shadow in our still life composition by pointing it out directly
Instead of a lengthy verbal explanation, I show Kevin how we can use paint to create shadows

We both step back to admire our paintings - I love seeing Kevin's obvious pride and joy in his artwork
Fruit still life painted by Kevin (Jan 2014)

And don't forget to tailor your student's art projects to their personal interests and favourite topics - let your art sessions be an opportunity to express passion for what is dearly loved and wash away some of the "dust of everyday life".

Kevin's second still life features his beloved Teddy (who looks exactly like Mr. Bean's Teddy)

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure ~ Albert Einstein

1 comment:

  1. And a big thanks to Carole (Kevin's mom) for taking the photos of our art session!