Featured Series: Live Art
There’s something magical about watching an artist at work. In “Live Art,” a video series from The New York Times on Facebook, viewers get to peek over the shoulders of contemporary children’s book illustrators as they draw and discuss their work and processes.
While these videos may feature books for younger readers, they can offer art students of any age insight into the ways professionals address common creative challenges. (And, for teachers, they reflect contemporary best practices for visual arts instruction: The National Core Art Standards, which have been adopted by most states, focus on teaching the artistic process.)
This lesson features four aspects of the artistic process: methods of research, material exploration, narrative choice-making and refining an idea over time. For each one, we invite you to watch two different artists work, and then respond to discussion questions that will help you recognize and describe the choices they made. Finally, we suggest several activities for you to experiment with similar choices and processes in your own creative work.
Please note: This series was part of a Times partnership with Facebook, so you must use the Facebook website to gain access to the videos in this lesson, except for the one at the top of this post.
Several “Live Art” videos feature segments where the artists describe how they use reference images and historical research to inform their work. In this lesson, you will watch two artists describe the process of finding visual source material and then translating those sources into their own artistic style.
Watch and Discuss: Sophie Blackall and Elinor Blake
Watch the videos of the artists Sophie Blackall and Elinor Blake, and pay attention to the moments where they discuss doing image research as they developed their illustrations.
In Ms. Blackall’s video, you can watch from 11:55 to 13:20 to hear her describe how she drew inspiration from drawings from the historical period in which her book “A Voyage in the Clouds” takes place. In Ms. Blake’s video, you can watch from 15:10 to 16:50 to see the images she collected when designing the two main characters in her book “We’re Going to Be Friends.”
After you watch, discuss the following questions:
Try It: Working With Visual Sources
Try one or more of these activities for using research and source material in your own work, inspired by Ms. Blackall and Ms. Blake.
Create a character based on a variety of images. Try Ms. Blake’s strategy for visual research. Pair up with a classmate and make a list of character traits. Choose one or two of …….