Teacher's Guide

Welcome to the New Eyes on Art

After over a year in limbo, Eyes on Art came back online in June 2001. The changing nature of copyright, fair use, and fee-based use of images once again rattled the foundation upon which the site was constructed: that Web-enabled access to images of great art can help students' arts education.

At least an interim solution has allowed us to repost version 2 of Eyes on Art. We've also taken this revision time to make corrections, update links and relate the activities to the 2001 California Department of Education's Visual Arts Content Standards.

The original version of Eyes on Art was posted in December 1995. In other words, decades ago (in Web years). A desire to update the look and feel of the site from version 2 browsers and changes related to fine art and copyright altered the face of the Web back in 1997. Gone were the days when anyone with a scanner and some cool magazines, books, or videos felt comfortable digitizing bits and slapping them on the Web. In terms of respecting intellectual property rights, this is as it should be. But those were heady days when the Web was all about sharing, not ownership.

So while many of the people we work for (teachers and students) are given allowances to use images from the Web for educational purposes, the sponsor of this Web site is not an educational institution. Still, rather than abandon the richness of art imagery on the Web, or joining into a formal partnership with a museum, our goal was to continue on our mission: creating models of Web-based learning that regular teachers could create (if they had the luxury we enjoy of doing this as our fulltime jobs).

After much deliberation and a fair few email queries, we were fortunate to find a handful of online museums that offer both outstanding images and a reasonable use policy. These are listed on the Art Links page. The rationale and review of the literature that informed the first version still provide the educational strategies now employed. In short, what you'll find in the new version are all new images, similar affective and critical thinking strategies, and more examples and rubrics to encourage positive outcomes. We hope you fine the refinements helpful.

Using the Eyes on Art Activities

You Choose · ArtSpeak 101 · Double Visions
No Fear o' Eras · Your True View · Eyes on Art Quiz

Below are some specific strategies for using each of the six branches of Eyes on Art. It should be mentioned that the activities are designed to lead in a progression. Beginning students of art should start with "You Choose" while more advanced students might touch base with "Double Visions" and then move on from there. You can go directly to the activities listed below by clicking on the title graphic. Instructions for students are found on the Web site for each activity. Below are overviews and justifications that teachers may want to keep in mind while using the particular activities.

You Choose

Beginning students of art need to find personal meaning in the endeavor, to make a connection before they are asked to embark on the adventure of learning to look. You Choose offers three activities to encourage students to feel a sense of ownership to a particular painting. First, students view a large selection of "thumbnails" of paintings. They choose those that they are attracted to, then click to see a large-scale version of the work. If they like the work, they click in the checkbox next to that image. Once they have collected all the works that capture their sense of what makes something a good work of art, they write about this in a text field, then post a page that reveals larger images that they selected and their statement. If you have a computer lab available, a nice experience is to let students walk through the "Monitor Museums" curated by their peers. Since this is an open and exploratory activity to help students feel good about viewing art, no rubric is supplied for You Choose.

Besides the Monitor Museum, two other ideas are suggested in the instructions page:

Students can then trace - or create their own artwork based upon - their favorite. Because it is on the monitor, students can work from the original.

Students are then challenged to re-create their favorite in a different way. They can choose an opposite subject or style in which to depict the work. This will promote creativity and a closer look at the facets of their favorite.

The instructions page also tells you how you can do the activity without javascript-enabled browsers.

Thus, You Choose supports many of the recommendations from the literature:

Because students have brought in their "favorites," they should feel "connected to the viewing space." Here is the opportunity to "value their beliefs and attitudes" and to create a "studio atmosphere of working, discussing artists"
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

By interacting with a favorite artwork through re-creation, students "undertake the task of dealing with objects seriously and attentively; it is only then that the aesthetic experience can occur" (p. 158)...[an experience] which is like an "interpersonal dialogue, friendship, and love" (p. 149)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

The activity provides teachers with a chance to offer "some form of encouragement and direction that might lead viewers to engage themselves with a measure of conviction. Role models (fellow students? teachers?), for example, may be instrumental in this context, 'watching how other people do it, people I respect' ... it is important to have reinforcement from people who have come to believe in me, whom I respect as well - that kind of reinforcement gives me the permission to trust my instincts' (p. 161)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Values Student Expressions and Experiences by encouraging them to make personal decisions about what appeals to them in a painting.

Creates a Community of Seers by exhibiting chosen artworks in the Monitor Museum.

Develops Aesthetic Experiences by encouraging students to look closely enough at paintings to choose a favorite.

Note: Please take the Copyright notice from The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco seriously. We appreciate the chance to use their images!

ArtSpeak 101

Once students have found a personal connection to works of art (through You Choose), the next step is to give words to what the painting has or does that may have attracted them. Enter ArtSpeak 101. This activity is a revision of The Visual Glossary in combination with Eyes of the Beholder. Now students can learn and apply a visual arts vocabulary in one activity that draws on two skills: knowing the terms and applying them.

The instructions for ArtSpeak 101 outline how students will derive their own understanding of how artistic elements and design techniques function in paintings. This is first accomplished by providing three illustrative works for each main term. When students feel they have a grasp of the terms, they then select one of six famous paintings which they will use to apply their knowledge of the terms. Three sample writings are offered (beginning, middle, and advanced) as well as a feedback rubric.

Thus, ArtSpeak 101:

Moves students into the realm of identifying the Selected Visual Arts Terms, (pgs. 92 - 93) from the California Department of Education's Visual and Performing Arts Framework.

Uses a discovery introduction to the aesthetic experience that helps to create a "relational web of understanding" (p. 129) supporting students as they construct personal meaning from what they view.
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Creates a Community of Seers by having a classroom of students share their insights about how the various design elements and principles are used by artists.

Uses a Clear Strategy for Viewing Art. A discovery method helps students draw empirical generalizations about design elements.

Helps Students Acquire Background Knowledge relating to the "vocabulary" of art.

Double Visions

The main justification for Double Visions is best explained in Csikszentmihaly & Robinson:

"The juxtaposition of particular works of art can have great impact and assist someone's 'seeing.' This structuring, rather than imposing an order or specific idea on the viewer, is a vehicle for autonomous construction of meaningful experience; the experience is facilitated rather than dictated" (p. 146).

In this more advanced activity, students choose one of nine sets of artworks to compare and contrast, then view larger versions of the artworks and answer a series of interpretive questions. The questions are designed to highlight interesting similarities and differences and to encourage more analytical looking. A fine series of questions from Professor Craig Roland (of @rt room fame) is provided as well. Finally, students write an interpretation to show what they have discovered through comparing and contrasting. A rubric is provided for feedback.

Thus, Double Visions supports the following ideas from the literature of art education:

"Supply the viewer with the support and confidence to confront works of art openly and honestly" (p. 162). The prompting questions serve as a cognitive scaffolding upon which to build an understanding.
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

It should be communicated that viewing art is its own reward, a chance to embark on an adventure that will challenge senses, emotions, and knowledge.
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Ways into the works should be provided: things that highlight the "perceptual, emotional, cognitive and communicative content of the works." (p. 175)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

The rewards of "seeing" art are "feelings of personal wholeness, a sense of discovery, and a sense of human connectedness." (p. 178)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Uses a Clear Strategy for Viewing Art by prompting students to look at particularly revealing comparisons.

Helps Students Acquire Background Knowledge directly from artworks by looking analytically at the works.

Promotes Aesthetic Experiences for Students by guiding them through the close looking that promotes the sense of clarity and wholeness that is the reward of an extended period of analytic looking.

Note: Please take the Copyright notice from The Thinker seriously. We appreciate the chance to use their images!

No Fear o' Eras

No Fear o' Eras is a revision of Miles of Styles and takes advantage of a new Web-based strategy we call the Concept Builder. It's based on the Concept Attainment model of presenting students with examples of a concept and helping them to see the critical attributes. By critically looking at three sample works from a major era in art history, students use discovery learning to see the stylistic evolutions and permutations themselves. A series on Internet links and Craig Roland's questions give them additional support. Finally, some tips and a rubric are offered to encourage ultimate success.

The eras covered are:

Byzantine Era

The Renaissance

The Dutch School




Abstract Expressionism

No Fear o' Eras supports the following ideas from the literature of art education:

"Previous positive experiences make it more likely that a viewer will challenge themselves again to seek the reward." (Csikszentmihaly & Robinson) Because "Miles of Styles" follows a progression of incrementally more challenging activities, successfully engaging students is more likely. "A number of more specific and graduated challenges might be provided, in recognition of the fact that without a sense of purpose the encounter with objects ... is bound to be diffused and unsatisfying."(p. 174)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Ways into the works should be provided: things that highlight the "perceptual, emotional, cognitive and communicative content of the works." (p. 175)
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

Values Student Expressions and Experiences by encouraging them to look with their own eyes.

Creates a Community of Seers by using collaborative teams who need to work together interdependently.

Uses a Clear Strategy for Viewing Art by dividing the analytic process into a Discipline-Based Arts Educational approach.

Helps Students Acquire Background Knowledge of artist styles and historical/cultural eras.

Promotes Aesthetic Experiences for Students by engaging them in an extended period of looking.

Your True View

"Your True View" is the activity that puts it all together. Students encounter a contemporary artwork with little or no supporting information. Their task is to come up with their own interpretation and critique of the piece (their "true view"). A series of questions from David Perkins is available to help students with their viewing process. These are not specific to the work, but generic tips for effective looking. Once students internalize Perkins' process, they have tools that can help them find a way into any artwork.

The nature of copyright for contemporary artists makes it difficult for us to post new works and to ask students to download them. The solution we struck was to have students use the URL (Internet location, you know those "http://www." things) of the images. This way, no one posts a Web page on the Internet and no one downloads an artist's image. Full instructions and a rubric are given.

In choosing the contemporary galleries, you can imagine there's a fair bit of shock art out there on the Web. We can't guarantee that the sites we link to will post nothing objectionable. We tried to surf for inoffensive sites while still maintaining an openness to the current state of arts. If your students are very young or your community is particularly offended by shock art, you might choose to skip Your True View. If your community is interested in exploring the world as it is, Your True View may let a little of the real world into your classrooms.

Your True View supports the following ideas from the literature of art education:

Determinability - the perceived opportunity to find, on a fairly direct level, some point of entry into the subject" (p. 147) which is a balance of the painting's challenge and the viewer's skill. This determinability usually comes from an emotional or intellectual connection, some human aspect. Because students can choose the painting they wish to explore, it is hoped that they will come to the painting having already begun to form some type of connection.
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson).

"The skills of the viewer - what it is he or she needs to bring to the aesthetic encounter - are very much the center of what leads to aesthetic experience" (p. 150). "Your education has a huge impact on how you see something" (p. 152). "You can teach how something is composed, categorize it, and show where it came from and the importance of the patronage and the personality of the artist and all these different facets, but all these things "in themselves wouldn't necessarily make somebody enjoy or appreciate a work of art. What does happen is that 'at some point... somehow... people sort of click on, and they suddenly begin to really love the process of looking at a work of art."
(Csikszentmihaly & Robinson)
Note: It is the overriding goal of Eyes on Art that students experience this "clicking on."

Values Student Expressions and Experiences by encouraging them to make personal decisions about works of art that could be from respected or popular contemporary artists.

Uses a Clear Strategy for Viewing Art. By providing David Perkins' suggestions for viewing, students have access to perceptive questions as tools for looking.

Helps Students Acquire Background Knowledge of how to look at a painting.

Promotes Aesthetic Experiences for Students by guiding them through the close looking that promotes the sense of clarity and wholeness that is the reward of an extended period of analytic looking.

Eyes on Art Quiz

Due to copyright constraints (not an undo reverence for Dead White Men), we decided to make the Eyes on Art Quiz a general art history quiz, rather than a final check on what students learned through Eyes on Art. So if you've taken at least Art Appreciation 101, why not give it a try? Feedback after you submit your answers attempts to be somewhat educational, but mostly, have fun!

December 1995
Last revised February, 2014
Created by Tom March, tom at ozline dot com