Drawing Drama – Idea File

Students evaluate a narrative painting and then create artwork based on an aspect of a story.
Grades: 9-12

Teaching Concepts:
Students study interrelationships between two art forms, exploring the narrative and expressive powers of both.

Academic Content

  • Visual Arts: purposes (narrative), principles of design (emphasis, balance), art processes (two-dimensional)
  • Literature: Shakespeare, Othello
  • Humanities: Renaissance and Romanticism

Lesson Idea
Resource: Othello Relating His Adventures by Alexandre Cabanel.

Discuss: Discuss the painting Othello Relating His Adventures by Alexandre Cabanel, focusing on the narrative aspects of the image and forgetting, for the moment, what students may know about the Shakespeare play. Have students read information about the painting. If you have time and students are interested, read Othello; otherwise, discuss the plot of the play. Talk about how a story can be told in both a painting and a play; compare and contrast their similarities and differences. Is the scene depicted in the Cabanel painting indicative of the plot of the play?

Create: Have students identify a book they have enjoyed reading. Tell them to think about the story and list its main elements, such as the characters, setting, plot, and climax. Ask students to focus on one key scene and do several sketches of the scene using drawing pencils. Which characters were in the scene? How were they dressed? How were they positioned in relation to one another? What was in the background? How can the scene be drawn to make the best impact? Have students draw on 11″ X 14″ drawing paper using colored pencils and make a detailed drawing of the scene they explored in their small sketches.

Extend: Why might an artist of the Romantic period be drawn to a work of art from the Renaissance? Why might Cabanel have been attracted to Othello as the inspiration for a narrative artwork?

Author: Adapted from a lesson by Gwen Kelly

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K-12English Language Arts and LiteracyThe Arts