Creating art based on the work of famous artists in history are lessons commonly used in classrooms from kindergarten to college. While studying and copying from the masters is an important part of an art education, it can sometimes frustrate the younger student that has more difficulty with drawing and painting.
A fun and alternative way to learn about a particular artist and their work, is to have students create a 3-D project based on a painting. A sculpture made of found or recycled objects, papier-mâché, or clay can be a fun alternative lesson.
In a recent art class, we looked at the work of Salvador Dali, perhaps most known for his painting titled The Persistence of Memory. Students were instructed to make a “melting clock” from air-dry clay. After observing and talking about the original painting, clocks were sculpted using about two fist size pieces of clay, with the winding mechanism and clock hands added. Numbers were carved into the clock face. After the project dried for a week, the clocks were painted with acrylic craft paint, using similar colors from the original painting.
For a writing exercise, ask students to observe the various objects in the painting and come up with a short story. Why do they think the shapes are distorted? What do the objects represent? How do the objects relate to one another? What would happen if you found a “melting clock?”
Crayola brand air-dry clay
Plastic bowl (bottom side up) to mold and warp the clock face
Pencil or other tool to carve the clock numerals
Acrylic craft paint (silver, gold, blue and black)