Art and Design

Artist links: Sam Taylor Wood (work: ‘Escape Artist’, ‘Bram Stoker’s Chair’)
Curriculum link: Drama

Task: How do artists create drama using light and dark?

Key Stage 2

Ask students to have a short discussion on their tables using the selection of images below:

  • What makes these images look dramatic?
    • Lighting (directional lighting)
    • Colour (e.g. colour of the costumes contrasted to the coloured/black back drop)
    • Focus on the characters in the foreground
    • Facial expressions and body language
  • What do they think this opera could be about, can they guess who are the main characters and why? Do they like/ love each other?

Suggested Activity:

  • Make a composite portrait that symbolizes love by cutting two photographs in half choosing one of the students themselves, and one of a family member or friend; the most successful composite portraits use two photos that have similar sized faces to match facial proportions.
  • Photocopy and enlarge the portrait to make it A4 size, black and white, then add a border using magazines/printed images and interesting objects that represent either person i.e. CD’s, sweet wrappers, book covers, sports team colours, tickets.

Key Stage 3: Colour theory

As well as the discussion above, extend the discussion:

  • Why has the set designer/ lighting team chosen deep blue and then brick red lighting behind the main characters in the photographs below?
    • Ask which are cool and which are warm colours and what effect warm and cool colours have on our perception of colour (e.g. cool colours recede, warm colours advance.)

Suggested Activities:

  • Split the class into small groups, each group pretends to be the gossipy friends watching the tricks that mischievous Norina plays on Don Pasquale. Photograph the groups using strong directional lighting and surreal props.
  • Either use Photoshop or print photographs and paint onto certain “characters” using warm and cool colours to highlight or make them recede into the background.

Key Stage 4:

Task 1: Surrealism
Artist Link: Salvador Dali

Suggested activities:

  • Draw in ink/photocopy images of main characters and cut them out then paint a surreal sky background using the vibrant colours of the sky here.
  • Experiment with scale and the illusion of depth to make a surreal composition: combine different perspectives, enlarge objects in relation to the characters e.g. the umbrella, and add more characters and objects.

Task 2: Chiaroscuro
Artist link: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Suggested activities:

  • Focus on a close up of two faces from the image below using a view finder, firstly draw with a dark media like charcoal or pencil and refine skills in shading and mark making. Then experiment with subtractive drawing (cover page with charcoal/ black chalk and draw with a rubber).
  • Compare the two drawings, which shows the best chiaroscuro effect and why?
  • Ask students to work in pairs; choose a character from the opera, plan costumes and props for a photoshoot and then produce a series of high contrast and melodramatic portraits using directional lighting.