On the art palette and the artist’s palate
I was formally introduced to an artist’s palette when as a child I was given an apron filled with crayons. Those sixteen colors worked certain magic on my imagination. In memory, I played with those colors and put them back in their pockets without thinking about primary or secondary combinations. Nor was I to concerned with the elements or principles of art. The apron was a convenient place to keep my crayons and always have them handy. But when I found this packed away treasure, the first thing I did was get a box of “regular” crayons and arrange the colors into a palette ever so pleasing to my adult aesthetic sense. When April shared a photograph of a dish served to her in
Spain, here was an example of palate as both the sense of taste and an aesthetic sense.
April and I have recently spent a great deal of time discussing art terms and words in general. Our conversations ranged from words within art, those disciplinary specific terms we use and teach our students in order to gain experience with art, to the acquisition of academic language, that list containing 570 word families developed by Averil Coxhead known as the academic word list (AWL). The AWL consists of words that occur in a range of academic texts from various subject areas including art, commerce, law, and science that students need to know in order to be college and/or career ready (complete information is available here).
Reviewing the AWL 10 sub-lists made me realize how much I assume about teaching and learning; particularly what I think “everyone” knows. While art words abound in the AWL offering a rich opportunity to expand the knowledge base of all our students, making sure students understand words in context and can accurately use them to communicate orally and in writing is a constant challenge. That challenge gives me an opportunity to unpack the language of art, to consider carefully what type of learning occurs when I use “estimate, identify, method, process, source, vary”, just to name a few of the 570 words in AWL. I am so steeped in my disciplinary silo, I find it’s time to pull back and look at words differently. Words can be confusing so I need to be sure I am providing a solid base for 21st century learners. It’s time for me to put that apron on again in order to learn and teach in a new light.