Beginning a Series

In Art Projects, Digital
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I’ve given my advanced Digital Art class a new assignment. They have to make a series. It doesn’t have to be just photography, it can be anything they want as long as it includes 8-10 pieces and the pieces must go together. At first glance, that might not sound like a difficult task, but if any of you have ever put together a series, you’ll know that it’s frustrating, time-consuming and usually fraught with do-overs. Which makes it an excellent learning opportunity.

To create a series, you have to start with an idea. And brainstorming with high schoolers via Zoom is not an easy task. I asked them to each use a Google spreadsheet and then I followed along as they were required to come up with over 20 different ideas. Then I made them narrow them down to the 5 they were most interested in attempting. After that, I shifted the Zoom classroom into breakout rooms of 2 so they could discuss the feasibility of their ideas with someone else. They had to do it a second time before finally choosing their idea and announcing it to the rest of their classmates. As the class period came to a close, one of my students casually asked if I’d be making a series, too. Just like that, a new project opportunity landed in my lap.

Not only was it a good challenge, but I also thought this would be an excellent way to show my students some of the trials and tribulations and the behind the scenes of the creative process. I want my students to understand that it’s normal to screw up and have to start again. To change their minds and try it a different way. To have their first attempts not work like they expected. In fact, it’s almost a given. Beginnings are always messy.

In my series, I wanted to use the flatbed scanner I have in my classroom. I’ve been meaning to play around with scanner art for awhile now, and this seemed like the perfect time. I decided to gather some of the fall leaves that are appearing around us right now and as an additional embellishment, I chose to photograph the trunks of the trees that they came from and somehow merge them together. It was supposed to be a simple, easy project that I could accomplish without too much trouble. But don’t all projects start out that way?

The first time I went to gather leaves I got so wrapped up in choosing just the right ones that I forgot to photograph the trunk of the tree.

The second time I went out, it became very obvious that I couldn’t use the trees at my school because the trunks are all still too small. I can’t fill the frame of my viewfinder with the bark without having the background show.

The third time I went out I realized that we don’t have a lot of variety in our trees. I imagined that my project would be filled with all different varieties and colors of leaves and so far, I kept finding the same shape and colors over and over.

I’ve only made 1 attempt at editing the images together at this point. It is just the beginning after all. I already know that it’s not coming out like I envisioned in my head. I have lots more work to do before I’m ready to turn this into a series. I hope you’ll continue to follow along when my next blog post comes around to see my progress!

Beginning again (and again, and again) – Angie

2 Comments

  1. Your students are fortunate to have you as a teacher. They will fall in love with the creative process and it will serve them well for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen this first hand with my son who always worked alongside me for every series, collection and project. Now he uses these skills in his professional life, and it’s a joy to see him make real things that matter – even as we live in this virtual world. Your description of the first and second and third tries and how things evolve is exactly the kind of learning all students need! Beautiful, Angie!

  2. What an inspirational teacher you are. These ideas are just wonderful and of course now I’m also thinking of starting a series…

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