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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Teaching Creativity and Science through Beauford's Abstract Expressionist Art - Part 1

As the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project unfolds, the student participants on both sides of the Atlantic are exercising their imaginations and learning about science as they create works inspired by Beauford's Abstract Expressionist works.

The Jean Zay students in Paris began their venture into abstraction with Beauford's Untitled (1961):

Untitled
(1961) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

First, they decided to use red, orange, and ochre tones to create works made from a mixture of water-based and oil-based pigments. Here are a couple of examples of them:


Jean Zay mixed media on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

The fact that the students chose to use a color scheme different than the one Beauford chose allowed them to create spontaneously and to appreciate their work.

Later, they wanted to "copy" Untitled using blue and green hues similar to those in the original painting.


Jean Zay students creating watercolors on paper
Images courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Many were frustrated with their inability to accurately reproduce Beauford's lines and colors. Project leader Juliette Blache encouraged them not to worry about making an exact replica and to "let themselves go" during this exercise, as they had done before. But some of the students remained unsatisfied with their results.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, the Nature's Way children selected Beauford's Greece (1967) as their inspiration:

Grèce
(1967) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

They created watercolors and oils based on their views of this painting.

Nature's Way Watercolor on paper by Meah
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

Nature's Way oil on canvasboard by MaKenna
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

Back in Paris, the Jean Zay kids selected another abstract to model. This time, it was Beauford's Les Embruns (1963):

Les Embruns
(1963) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Next week, I'll present images of the art the students created based on this mixed media work as well as the science behind this creativity exercise.

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