How does ART start is my own “G” rated “performance” art piece designed specifically for students and teachers.



and your




How does ART Start?


A 45 minute interactive visual arts performance



Imagine yourself traveling back to your elementary school days. It is the first day of school after summer vacation and the assignment is to draw a picture of what you did on your summer vacation. There it is…that dreaded blank blank blank white sheet of paper. What now?

When faced with that blank sheet, many students feel blank themselves. What to do? How to get started? How to leap that chasm of stark white blankness and land on the other side with shape, form and color? Every artist since the beginning of time, amateur or professional, has faced the dilemma: How does ART start?

With a little help from your students, Marsha Pippenger will show you how.

Performing before as few as twenty students and as many as two hundred, Pippenger creates a work of art right before you and your students’ eyes, with input and assistance from your student artists. Each student is asked to bring along a pencil and pad of paper so that they may draw along.

Pippenger begins with the question: “How does Art start?” She allows students to answer: “I get my ideas from books”. “I like dogs.” “Red is my favorite color.” She fills in with some other ways: an interesting shape, an experience, an ordinary object, an emotion, an idea from another culture. All are ways for ART to start.

She talks about the basics of artmaking that create an interesting picture: line, shape, color, composition, balance, unity and so on. She emphasizes original thought: every artist should draw like himself or herself, and that is exactly as it should be. And in this particular art-making experience, collaboration is needed.

As she talks, she draws on the large white canvas. The students are invited to draw along with her on their sketch pads. She talks about how every drawing or painting begins with LINES. She draws some more, and lines become SHAPES. Suddenly, a picture has appeared on the canvas. Now COLORS must be chosen and added to the line drawing to finish the picture.

Students are asked to assist with this. Volunteers are chosen to help tear colored paper (COLLAGE) to fill in the areas of the picture. The color is added to the picture. Pippenger shows her artists how to tear shapes. She moves throughout the audience choosing volunteers to tear out specific shapes for the painting. At the assigned time, each shape group is called up to place their pieces on the painting.

More volunteers help fill in other parts of the composition. Other volunteer students help by “painting” in areas with non-toxic water based markers. As a finishing touch, more students come up to “frame” the finished collage. They are working on a deadline, as Pippenger points out to her fellow “artists” that this piece must be finished by the end of the program.

It is a high energy, highly creative, and collaborative artmaking experience as students engage in the process of creating, selecting, deciding, problem solving, and working together.

The end result is amazing. In a mere 45 minutes, the entire student body has had a part in creating a colorful and original work of art! The school now owns a beautiful collage created by its own students. The finishing touch to the collage is added by Pippenger as she signs the piece for all involved: “Created by the students of (fill in your school name), on (fill in date)”.

How can your school or organization participate? Contact: Marsha M. Pippenger, 937-278-7981 or e-mail at: marsha. [email protected].


a 45 minute “performance art” piece

Performance Fee: $275 includes all materials (artist provides)

Mileage Fee: Standard state rate

The School supplies: a large rolling chalkboard or sturdy easel to hold 40″ x 60″ foam-core; table for materials; microphone if needed; students are asked to bring paper and pencil to draw along with the artist.

Optional: videocamera to tape performance.

How does ART start? This is a finished collage from an “How does ART start?” performance. It was created by students in grades 4, 5, and 6 at Harman Elementary School in Oakwood, Ohio.