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"Living Art Through the Lines: Reading Shakespeare Through the Eye of the Artist" (Day 1)

Teachers' Rating:
  3 ratings

William Salter. Othello's Lamentation. Oil on canvas, ca. 1857.

June 2013
Kristyn Rosen teaches English at North Plainfield High School, North Plainfield, NJ Jill Burdick-Zupancic teaches English at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA

Plays/Scenes Covered
Othello, 5.2 Please note that this lesson is easily adaptable for many of Shakespeare's plays as long as there are fine art images available to support the selected scene.

Suggestions include:

 Romeo and Juliet-the balcony scene

 Macbeth-The Witches

 Hamlet- Ophelia's death

 Check out LUNA-the Folger's free online database.



What's On for Today and Why

Students will:

  • Explore the basic elements of art and principles of design
  • Use visual clues in art to analyze visual clues in performance
  • Interpret visual clues in a selection of fine art that correlate to a selected scene from Othello

What You Need
  • Projector/Smart Boad to display slides
  • Power Point "Elements of Art and Principles of Design"
  • Slides of selected images

What is also helpful:

Printed copies of the PPT or giving students definitions of the terms.

Access to LUNA

Elements of Art and Principles of Design
What To Do

1. Show or Distribute Handout of the Power Point, "Elements of Art and Principles of Design" and go through the fine art vocabulary:

color, value, proportion, balance.


2. Explain to the students that an understanding of these terms will help them "decode" a work of art. For example, the terms define the elements of art which are building blocks for a picture, and the principles of design are how the blocks are laid out to build the picture.


3. Display the slide "Nighthawks", by Edward Hopper on the screen*


4. Start a discussion by asking students questions :

Wht do you see?

What does the color add to the painting?

What colors are dominant?

How does value (new vocabulary term meaning the artist's use of relative light/dark areas) affect the piece?

How does the proportion and balance of the piece affect your interpretation of the work?


* "Nighthawks" was selected because it is a representational image that lends itself to aesthetic reading. Feel free to substitute.


5. Have students select words from the fine art vocabulary list and discuss each element and how it relates to the image being displayed. Have students point out where in the image they see these elements (eg. where do they notice variations in color, or specific dominant colors?)


6. Divide students in groups of 2 or 3.


7. Review how to read a painting and then allow students 5-7 minutes to create a narrative based on their reading of "Nighthawks".


8. Have each group share their narrative, making sure they can support it with visual clues utllizing new fine art vocabulary.


9. Closing/Reflection-Ask each student to complete the sentence,

"Today I learned that...."


10. In preparation for Day 2, have students read Othello, 5.2


How Did It Go?

Were students able to understand the fine art vocabulary?

Could they apply these terms to the piece of art work?

Were they able to create a narrative that relected their understanding of the elements of art and the principles of design?


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

RL.9-12.1, 4

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