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