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Brilliant Makers Club

Student with her ant eater sculpture inspired by the Roald Dahl poem The Ant Eater

 

September 13th 2016 saw the celebration of 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, so I thought it would be a nice idea to create a project based around his poetry book ‘Dirty Beasts’ and a great opportunity to look at the illustrations by Quentin Blake.

 

Plasticine modelmaking inspired by Roald Dahl poems

Sharon Gale reading Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl to her art club students

 

The finished artwork would be a sculpture inspired by the ghastly beasts mentioned in the poems, positioned on a plinth decorated with marbled paper and mixed media.

This particular project incorporates observational drawing, illustration, modelling with Newplast, marbling inks and mixed media. It was carried out over seven, one hour sessions.

Accessart have a wonderful resource titled ‘Quentin Blake’s Drawing as Inspiration!’. I began my first session with this resource introducing my students to the work of Quentin Blake and how he captures the quirkiness of so many of Roald’s characters. I acted as the model whilst the children had to draw me first as a continuous line drawing, and secondly as a series of straight lines (drawn in time to me slapping the floor).

 

Plasticine models inspired by the book ‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake

Illustration of Sharon Gale by a student, using lines drawn in time to a beat

 

This exercise was quite tough for some children, who found it difficult to draw using a technique that was taking them out of their comfort zone. Even so, the children enjoyed the experience of being in the school hall, choosing where would be a good angle to draw the me (the model) from.

Over the next couple of sessions the students studied Quentin Blake illustrations from books and created their own characters which they were able to paint.

 

 

Next we had a session using marbling inks. These decorated papers were to be used to part decorate the cardboard plinths. Using shallow trays filled with water, small amounts of marbling ink was dropped on the water; a toothpick dragged through the water allows the ink to separate and form pretty patterns. Too much ink made for a muddy messy saturated print, so less is more with marbling inks! Paper (pre-cut to fit inside the tray) was placed on the floating inks, you can see the ink soak into the paper, so, after a few seconds it was lifted to reveal the marbling effect. The prints were left to one side to dry. This activity can be messy, so it’s worth covering the work area with newspaper and make sure you have a separate area for drying prints.

 

Plasticine models inspired by the book ‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake

Marbling ink patterns being made by dragging a toothpick through the oily ink

Plasticine models inspired by the book ‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake

Marbling ink papers for use with decorating the plinths

 

In the following lesson the children modelled their illustrated characters with Newplast, this is the superb modelling plasticine used by Aardman Animations. Once the students had chosen their colours, I handed out a palm sized amount for them to soften. It’s important to warm up the plasticine in your hands first before trying to sculpt from it.

Another tip is to make sure you have plenty of wet wipes to hand. Whenever you handle a different colour, it’s important to have clean hands as the strong colours can transfer onto each other. For example, if you modelled black plasticine then modelled yellow without clean hands, the black would make the yellow go a dirty yellow colour.

 

Plasticine models inspired by the book ‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake

Student adding texture to his model

 

At this point I tried to remind the children about exploring the character of their model, remembering how Quentin Blake exaggerated the features of his characters in his illustrations.

 

Plasticine models inspired by the book ‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake

Sharon Gale advising a young art club student

 

For the final part of the project, the children had to decorate a plinth/base suitable for their character to be displayed on. I had pre-cut thick corrugated card into circles approximately 15cms diameter.  Using their marbling paper, construction materials (such as wooden sticks, pipe cleaners, cardboard tubes etc) and their imaginations the students could create an environment fit for their plasticine models. The children really enjoyed this activity of creating little habitats. Some students engaged problem solving skills when their ideas were too complicated or big and need to be simplified.

 

 

This was an interesting project incorporating lots of different techniques and materials, the variety made it exciting but also challenging. The age range in my group is 5-11 years, it is evident that the older children were aware of the Quentin Blake link to their sculptures whereas this was soon forgotten with the younger ones.  Most importantly, fun was had by all!

Many thanks to Nux Photography who visited the Art Cabin and took a few snaps for me.

 

 

Brilliant Makers Badge

I’m so happy to say that the Art Cabin is now part of the ‘Brilliant Makers Club’ set up by AccessArt. As you can see to the right, we have a new badge that we can display with pride.

So, what are Brilliant Makers Clubs?

These are a network of clubs set up in local communities to encourage high quality opportunities for hands-on creative exploration. AccessArt are hoping to encourage facilitators to consider starting a new club to provide more opportunities for hands-on creativity and making.

If you already run an arty type club perhaps you would like to get involved? Whether you’re new to this or established, you can find out how to get involved by visiting AccessArt here.

They will be able to help you with art ideas galore! So, what are you waiting for?

Creative hands-on making

Wolves in the Walls Project

 

This project was inspired by a lesson plan written by Nigel Meager (Teaching Art by Nigel Meager). In his illustration lesson plan, he referred to the children’s book ‘The Wolves in the Wall’ written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean.

The idea is for students to practice markmaking with various mediums, study & discuss photos of wolves, then illustrate their own wolf character.

The ‘Wolves in the Walls’ story is super and the illustrations by Dave McKean have so much drama in them.

I read the story to my students and we discussed the illustrations. Next the students had a chance to play with the charcoal, graphite sticks, oil pastels, pens, pencils etc, to see what textures they could invent.

After looking at some photos of real wolves and discussing what it would be like to touch them, the students set about creating their own ‘Wolves in the Walls’.

Once drawn and carefully cut out, we arranged a lovely display on the wall. Some students decided to go on and make their wolves using clay, which they painted beautifully.

Gromit model making day

Jim from Aardman Studios holding Gromit

Last Wednesday I was invited by my local primary school (where the Art Cabin is based) to be part of a very special day.

Aardman Studios, the creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run, Morph and Timmy Time to name a few, sent over one of their highly skilled model makers (Jim) to show us how Gromit is made.

After a talk about model making, we were all given the correct amount of Newplast to make our very own Gromit. Jim took us through the making process stage by stage, so we were all making our models at the same time. Since I was making one too, I don’t have photos of the step by step stage (perhaps something to blog about in the future).

Part way through the day we also had an unexpected visit from ‘Wallace & Gromit’, as you can imagine the children were thrilled!

The nursery children didn’t miss out either, they made Morph’s friend Chas (which was less complicated than Gromit).

Each and every Gromit that was made developed it’s own personality & character; by the end of the day there were many wonderful & fun dogs to admire.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why Aardman Studios paid a visit to this little Hertfordshire village school, it’s because they won a Herts Catering competition!

Miro project

Getting the arrangement just right

 

This super Miro project incorporated a game, drawing, collage, construction, modroc, painting and composition. We worked on it over a period of nine 1 hour sessions.

Miro project

A lovely book to introduce children to the art of Miro.

 

After an introduction and discussion about Miro and his work, we played the ‘Roll A Miro’ game, you can find many print-outs on Pinterest. I used the ones from Once Upon an Art Room and Pinterest. Children roll the dice and the number rolled tallies up with a shape, the students eventually build up their Miro image. I have to say this game went down really well.

Miro project

Playing the ‘Roll A Miro’ game.

 

Next the students cut coloured card to create a large collage of shapes, this activity is credited to AccessArt. Once the collages were complete, I read a nonsensical poem pitched at different sound levels (that was interesting!). The children had to draw over their collage in response to the words and sounds with a black felt tip pen.

Miro project

Creating the Miro inspired collages

 

To show the children how the same set of painting directions could lead to many variations, I devised a quick painting session. I read out half a dozen actions, for instance:-

  1. Paint two yellow circles.
  2. Paint two red lines from one side of your paper to the other.
  3. Paint three blue wavey lines touching the red lines etc….

The students loved this activity and the enthusiam for painting did lead to some children painting more shapes/lines than necessary. But hey, we were having a good time!

Miro project

A Miro inspired painting.

 

After a talk on shapes (regular & irregular). It was time to plan the sculptures.

The brief was to create two large shapes from cardboard. One shape from clay (although some children made more as it would be asthetically pleasing to their design idea). Up to six small wooden sticks or two cut lengths 1cm x 1cm wood.

Each child had a white mountboard plinth to arrange their sculpture on.

To make the large sculptural elements, the students cut two pairs of different shaped card. To create depth, two small pieces of bubble wrap were sandwiched between the cardboard and taped in place. The cardboard shape was completedly covered in masking tape, ready for modroc-ing.

 

The Modroc was cut into small strips, a single piece of Modroc was then dipped in water and carefully placed onto the cardboard shape. To activate the plaster and cover the bandage, the Modroc had to be gently smoothed with a finger.

 

Once the Modroc had dried and the students had made their small clay sculptures, the painting could begin.

 

It was great fun getting the students to think about how their final sculpture’s elements should be arranged. Trying different placements to create a pleasing balance. I was very impressed how the students approached this part of the project, all their hard work was coming together and they wanted to get it right. All the elements were glued in position using either PVA or a hot glue gun (which I was in charge of for safety reasons).

 

Here are the finished sculptures. As a last minute thought, I asked the students to title their sculptures.

gallery-1024x790

 

AccessArt are running a competition with over £1200 worth of prizes thanks to the competition supporter Cass Art. There are two age groups for entry, ages 5-7 and ages 8-11 and the theme is ‘My World’.

Not forgetting the dedicated teachers, artists and facilitators, there is a prize for ‘Talented Teacher or School Prize’ too.

For more information, catagories and entry forms, head over to AccessArt. Hurry, the deadline is 27th May 2016.

Hmm, think this is something the Art Cabin students would like to take part in.

IMG_5491

This weekend I visited the V&A Museum of Childhood, a lovely museum near Bethnal Green, East London.

Apart from the superb array of toys from bygone eras, there was an exhibition of TV characters created by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate. I hold Bagpuss and The Clangers (along with other TV characters such as Fingerbobs, Pipkins and Mary, Mungo and Midge. Morph, Trumpton) responsible for getting me interested in creating and making.

I loved the stories, animation, puppets and plasticine so much, that I wanted to create my own world. And I did (I still do).

If you get a chance to visit the exhibition, you will learn that The Clangers’ attire was based  on an outfit that Twiggy wore (who knew!)

 

Of course, I was very inspired by my visit to the museum (I always am). So, now I’m thinking of what kind of art project we can do? Perhaps, the children can create their own 3D character and make up a story about their adventures … oh the possibilities.

The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition is on till 9th October, but do check out what else is on too at the museum, because during holiday times there will be workshops for children, so you can make a day of it!