Students will closely examine a work of art, collaborate with each other, create a work in the style of the Unge’s “Orchids Room,” and respond to each other’s work.
National Core Art Standards
- Perceive and analyze artistic work
- Develop and refine artistic work for presentation
- Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding
one or two class periods
watercolors, water, brushes, paper, pencils, colored pencils.
- Background and examination: Have students look at an image of “Orchids Room” and discuss some background about the art work.
Unge, the artist of this scroll, was born into a family of Buddhist priests and became a monk and scholar with close friends among painters trained in the Chinese style as well as calligraphers. Unge painted five clusters of orchids on this scroll while friends brushed the title sheet that opens the scroll (far right) and added comments at the end (far left). Text and image are inextricably woven together, recording stimulus and response as ongoing exchange between friends.
With students, note that it is constructed of different paintings of orchids with sections of text on the ends. Notice that the writing is in several different hands—students can tell that several people wrote on this scroll. Explain that one person painted the flowers and plants while his friends wrote the calligraphy—the large title at the beginning, right side, and the comments at the end, left side.
- Students create watercolor sketches of something they like in the classroom. You could arrange some objects on the tables for them to observe and sketch.
- While they are drying, each student will write a large title or description of their sketch. When dry, they will attach this to the right side of their sketch. When each student has attached her/his title, place all the sketches on desks or tables.
- Give each student two pieces of paper and ask them to write a short, kind and polite description, poem, haiku or some other response, to sketches by other students and attach them to the left side of the appropriate sketch. If there are already two attachments, they will proceed to another sketch.
- At the end of class, have a few volunteers read the poems or comments classmates made of their watercolors.