Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College
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Class challenges students to illustrate popular novel

December 11, 2013

Students in Sara Fletcher’s Topics in Art class had a chance to combine literature and visual arts this semester with a focus on Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.”

Students were tasked with reading the novel before illustrating it using a variety of media and models who wore pieces from the college’s costume shop.

“I think the students learned a lot about drawing human figures in relation to each other,” Fletcher said. “Having the story element was a good focus and reason for getting the arms, for example, meaningful and right.”

During the first month of the course, students discussed the novel every Tuesday. They also watched two versions of the movie to get different perspectives.

Students experimented with watercolor, ink, pencil and other tools to create various ways of stylizing and drawing naturally, as well as how to compose the illustrations in a meaningful way.

“Each student had a different perspective on the story,” Fletcher said. “It was interesting to see it from her vision. And because each was at a different angel to the models, that told the story differently, too.”

Fletcher pitched the idea of having a course theme to Dr. Tara Giblin, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, who was supportive of incorporating it into visual arts.

“I chose the Jane Austen theme because I am a great fan of hers and love to incorporate illustrating with fine art, and the way pictures can complement a beautiful story,” she said.

Next semester, she is teaching an eight-week course, “Women as Children’s Book Illustrators and Authors,” during which they’ll study artists and authors. Each student will illustrate a fairy tale, either an existing one or one she writes herself.

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