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Starry Starry Night : Students Learn about POINT

Students learn about Pointillism as they create cards, which can also be upload to send as eCards.

It is a fun exercise but at the same time the underlying theory is about a very important POINT!

On the 2D Design Notes website the point was made that when teachers talk with students about Pointillism, Dot Art and the Element of Design called POINT, that a point is actually not a dot – it is a thought.  It is a gesture or a place but it is not actually a dot.   We put the dot there to show you where the point is!

Do you think this is trivial?

When we point, we show that something goes in a particular direction.  (Over there)

When we place a dot on a page, we actually place the pencil on the page at that point. The point is not the actual dot.  It is the point.   It may not seem important until such time as we want to talk with the students about implied direction and implied space.   If it is firmly embedded in student’s minds that a point is the same thing as the dot – they might get confused.

The exercise below is meant to underscore this important distinction for the students.  They will be drawing with pinholes.  They will create dot art with holes.  Once the holes are made, they can ether place a different coloured card behind the page or shine a torch through the holes.  If you slow down and manage the variables, the display would look good on open night.

Stage One: Immersion Stage

    1. Have the students search for pictures of starry nights on Google.
    2. Place them into a slide show.  Below are two examples.  Create a slideshow that is authentic for you.
      1. Be sure they credit the image in the formal manner so that they develop the knack of  acknowledgement as a habit.
      2. Find Vincent by Don McClean as a MP3 and use this as the backing track. (Educational environments only.  If you wish to upload this display to your classroom Blog write your own music or create a soundscape.)

      Some of the images that the students choose for the slideshow might be paintings or drawings and some might be photos.

      Don’t forget to introduce the students to copyright free sites such as Morgue File.  Not only does this save time but it will also make it easy to do the referencing.  Many Morguefile artists ask that authors using their work “drop them a line” this can be a good writing exercise for the students once the project has been completed.  Don’t do the work for the student. Finding out contact details is another extension exercise.   Thank You Letter (Jigzone example)

      Blogging Exercise:  Prepare the Background

      When the class searched for images alone or in groups; draw their attention to the idea that the night sky is not completely pitch black.   Read post Seeing like Van Gogh.

      Night Skyline

      A lesson on composition: talk with the students about there capacity to manipulate the background so that a colour scheme is created and a composition emerges.  Revise previous work on the Golden Mean.

      For a nice proportion, the page would be divided into two thirds night sky and one third the world below

      Remind the students that there might be clouds, city lights shining, or further out their might be constellations swirling in the milky way.


      • A3 Cartridge Paper,
      • Roller
      • Acrylic Paint. Try not to use white as this will conflict with the pin pricking exercise.  Although flicking or blowing it through a diffuser might make a nice effect.

      When you have created a back ground with 2/3rds night sky and 1/3 ground below set in the sun to dry.  The thicker the layers of paint the sturdier the paper will be.   This can be a good thing when the students are handling the pages to prick or to burn. (Consider burning one main hole)


      • Pins, skewers and other sharp pointed objects with which to prick the page
      • Glue and scissors

      Point out the golden mean to the students again.

      Show them that constellations do seem to come in the same shape as the shape of a snail shell.   (See Video on the Golden Mean.) Now set the to prick points into the top half of the painting.

      The easiest way to have light shine through the pages is to cellotape them to the window or a position where the sun or lights will shine through.

      If this is not an option make a frame from the lid of an A3 Photocopy Paper box and asset up a diorama.   In this case a simple torch will do the trick for shining through the page.  I will show you how to set up blinking LED lights at a later stage.

      BUT WAIT!  The project does not stop there.  Refer the students back to the Kayak painting and note the Island Mountains and how the add the last colour to an analogous colour scheme.

      Analogous Colour Exercise

      As we did with the Kayak composition exercise, we can also add the third leg of the analogous colour scheme.   If we have chosen dark blue and dark green from the colour wheel.  The missing colour of the triad will be yellow.  Create a skyline in yellow hues.

      Do this by  Feel Valued


      • Create a swirling yellow back ground on cartridge paper the way you did for the back ground.
      • Draw a city on the back of the yellow paper and cut it out.
      • Glue the sprawling city across the horizon.
      • Make the night line stretch across the page the way the mountains did in the Kayak painting.

      When you have completed the scene.  Upload the class displays to your Blog


      Extension Activity

      First finishers can upload their image and create a jigsaw to send as an eCard.
      Resources:     book_cover