Term: 4 Year: 2006

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It is never too early to teach design to students. Manipulating colours, shapes, tones, lines and textures are foundational
to the creation of all art – both 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional.

During the years of 7-12, students are taught the Design Elements and Principles in both Art and Visual Communication
(referred to in senior years as the Formal Elements in an artwork)

However, the purpose and outcome of both disciplines are quite different and need to be understood in order to assist
students to be able to fully enter into the different modes of thinking used when creating either an artwork or a
design for Visual Communication.

When a student starts a painting or drawing, they tend to place their subject matter on the paper with little awareness
of the frame in which they are working. They are then left with the problem of ‘filling in’ the background.
When students are given a series of abstract design exercises, they can be helped to develop an appreciation of the
abstract qualities of their artwork, and the sense of positive and negative spaces, and the overall Composition that
is being created by each and every placement of shape, line, texture, etc.

This same awareness is needed in Visual Communication, so that the information being communicated is not only effective
in reaching the target audience and answering the Design Brief, but has aesthetic appeal as well.

Creating designs that ‘play’ with the elements and principles provide a non-threatening way of entering
into the design process without having to face the ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I haven’t got
an idea’ issue. This process becomes really simple when the students are provided with a range of pre-coloured
designs (such as those sold by ZART), newspapers, magazines, coloured paper and glue and scissors. By keeping the
designs small – only 11×15 cm, several designs can be resolved in the space of a double lesson. An added bonus
in this process is that students will inevitably ‘express’ themselves in their designs. The ‘abstract’
nature of the first designs works almost like the famous ‘ink blot’ tests – get your student talking
about what the emerging images mean to them, and you will find all sorts of cues in which you can encourage further
creative thought in that student.

The initial exercises can be then photocopied and discussed in relation to the tonal balance. Students will now become
aware of the ‘weight’ that colours have.

These designs can be interpreted into pencil rendering, pen and ink, watercolour pencils, or gouache, etc. Designs
could also be interpreted into an all red or all blue version – an opportunity to teach colour mixing and paint
application. Designs printed on to acetate (overhead film) and placed on a variety of backgrounds is another way
to ‘see’ the design in a new way. In fact, the opportunities in which you can encourage the students
to take their designs in many directions are endless – an approach that is essential in the VCE years. Images
can be added eventually– either cut out or drawn by the student who is progressively becoming more confident
that he can create an artwork that is “finished” – no empty spaces!!!

ASSESSMENT of the THINKING Domain for the V.E.L.S

The thinking processes that are required in these tasks conform to BLOOM’S TAXONOMY: SIX THINKING LEVELS


MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES can also be catered for.

VERBAL – discussing or explaining the designs

MATHEMATICAL – students can consciously express mathematical pattern if they wish

VISUAL – the whole process is visual


MUSICAL – students who love music can be directed to KANDINSKY and can attempt to express music through shape and
colour, etc.

INTRAPERSONAL – the process involves personal expression

INTERPERSONAL – students share their visual ‘solutions’ and get feed-back from one another as well
as from the teacher.

Fairhills High School