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

Sharon Gale advising a young art club student

“Artists are schools’ latest big draw” by 

I saw the above article in The Times today and thought I must share it with you. It’s good news for artists and children in my opinion, more creative people in schools can only be of benefit. Not only do I work with children but I have an active arts practice too (as one half of an art duo called Quiet British Accent), and one definitely helps to inform the other.

I know that my art club and the curriculum based work I do in school has a very positive effect on students. Children are learning technical skills of course, but more importantly, students learn to problem solve, to be patient, cope with things not going right first time, persevere, to accept difference, to be proud, gain confidence, self worth, have fun, explore… (I could go on). And they make fun stuff!

It doesn’t matter whether or not the children want to be artists when they grow up, these really are skills to carry forward in to adulthood.

Not bad eh?

Photography by Nux Photography

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Embroidered Houses

AccessArt Village project

House embroideries which have been mounted in readiness for the AccessArt Village exhibition

Some Art Cabin students took part in AccessArt’s Village Project back in the summer.

“The aim of the project is simple: to inspire the AccessArt audience of all ages (children , teenagers and adults) to embroider a line drawing of their home on a 20 cm square piece of fabric.”

We recently received a photo of our embroidered houses cut out and mounted as models, ready to be be part of AccessArt’s Village exhibition which will tour the UK.

If you would like to be part of this project, you can find information on the AccessArt website here.

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Christmas Character models

I couldn’t resist doing a little festive project this year. So, using balloons as our armatures, the students created their very own Christmas character paper maché model. The children decided for themselves what type of character they wanted to make and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety we had. Santa (of course), reindeer, snowmen, Christmas bunnies, Christmas puddings and Christmas penguins!

The balloons were paper machéd until they were quite solid (we did around four layers of newspaper and used child friendly paste glue with PVA mixed in), then painted them with poster and acrylic paint. The finishing touches of making scarves and Santa hats really brought their cheeky characters out. The students thoroughly enjoyed this project and all the models were finished in time to take home to put on display.

So, all I need to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year x

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!