Writing on Wednesdays

 Students writing about Roy Lichtenstein's, "M-Maybe" (1965) Photo by Melody Weintraub

Students writing about Roy Lichtenstein's, "M-Maybe" (1965) Photo by Melody Weintraub

There is a new "tradition" with artists in my Middle School Art Classes. It is known as "Writing on Wednesdays." They know that on Wednesdays they have the green light to bring their laptops to explore a new painting specifically chosen for it's era or style. Sixth Grade (since I only have them for 9 weeks) is exploring the Impressionist Period. Since I have Seventh and Eighth Grade Students every day all year, Seventh Grade is working it's way through Post-Impressionism through Pop-Art and Eighth Grade is looking at Pop-Art through Contemporary Art. The writing formats vary from a formal critique (A.K.A. Art Investigation) to prompts in which students might write a letter to a friend describing a painting, write a short story based on a painting, or even write Haiku based on experiencing a painting using their five senses. If students are in the middle of an art process mid week and unable to pause, we might choose to have Writing on Wednesdays on...a Friday or Monday. Last Wednesday, I was not prepared for what transpired during my Sixth Grade Art Class! I put students in Investigating Teams. Using a handout which I created, students were to observe the "evidence" of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party and collect their data. What ensued was a very passionate argument regarding the content of the painting. It was wonderful. I tried hard not to smile too much. I don't think I'll ever have to remind them again who painted it or what it looks like. As students were leaving one student turned to me and said, "I love Writing on Wednesdays, Mrs. Weintraub! It's so much fun!" What's fun for me  is seeing these future Artists, Lawyers, Teachers, and Doctors connecting to Art in a whole new way. So, one day, maybe 20 years from now, when they are walking through the Art Institute of Chicago they just might take a second look at certain Renoir.