I'm coming into my busiest time of the year when all non-teaching projects seem to be needing attention all at once. In sight of this hectic time, I decided to post an older lesson I developed while at RISD.
Landscapes and Cityscapes served as an exercise based on the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Every artist has something that inspires her and often this something shows up in her work. Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by nature, and at certain points in his life, specifically by the Prairie. Growing up in Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright used what surrounded him in his designs of building and objects. Known mostly for his architecture, he succeeded in both furniture and graphic design as well. Wright was able to use his inspiration, nature, in very unique ways. He was known for designs using geometric shapes which he broke down from natural elements. He was able to envision anything in nature and turn it into a series of squares, rectangles and triangles. This process for Wright established a unity among things in nature and his designs. He wished for all things to be living harmoniously with nature. His Library Table was no exception.
Designed in 1915, the Library Table takes on strong characteristics of Wright’s beloved Prairies. The long horizontal line of the table is much like a horizon line on a farm. The cabinet that juts out from the center most resembles a barn or tree in the distance. It is a table designed for a specific purpose and for a specific place.
Since Frank Lloyd Wright drew inspiration from landscapes, the students were asked to do the same with their own projects. The Feinstein class sketched out what they might see if they look out of their bedroom windows. Some drawings were elaborate, others simple. All of the drawings were great examples of how an artist might use his surroundings in his work.
After the drawings were completed, the students then broke down parts of the sketches into geometric shapes. The shapes were chosen at random and reflected the way that Wright might have done it, if it were his own. Some students chose squares and rectangles, while others fit in circles and triangles as well. The students had to focus abstractly on this part of the project and did a great job stretching their imaginations.
For the last part of the lesson, the students designed and created a model of any object they chose. While they were encouraged to be creative with the object, most students chose to stick with Frank Lloyd Wright and design a piece of furniture. They were given a short demonstration on paper folding and the use of a paper hinge.
The Feinstein class was very successful in making their paper models and each amounted to a functional image of a three dimensional object. The final models can be seen here and are examples of using one’s visual lansdcape to create a piece of art.
I have been teaching art and design at the middle and high school level since 2006 and learning about both for a lot longer.