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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.

 

 

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The Armatures

This week the art club began making armatures, the supports for the clay heads that they will begin to sculpt next week. Newspaper is screwed up and taped to the stand, creating the head shape. When the desired shape was achieved, the children mummified it using masking tape.

This week it was also my job to introduce a group of years 3/4 to the art of repeat patterns. I decided to let them design their own wallpaper. They drew a design on a piece of A4 paper, I sliced it and repositioned the pieces for them using tape. They then photocopied the design 4 times, once all the pieces are lined up and taped, Hey Presto! Your wallpaper is complete. The kids really enjoyed this activity. Will post some photos asap.

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Happy New Year to you. As you can see from the photo, the view from the Art Cabin’s window is very pretty, but enough is enough! We want the snow to go now.

The Art Cabin Club got straight into clay on Monday and Tuesday, and boy, do children love it! Pure and simple messing about with shapes, textures and clay tools.

The plan is to first create an armature out of wood & paper to support the clay sculpture of an head. The children have the choice to use their imagination to create their sculpture or base their idea on someone. It will be an interesting project, as one child shouted “I’m going to create an Alien Grandad Monster”.

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Here are a few pics of the decorations now fully varnished ready for hanging up.

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Art Cabin is awarded £500

The Parish Council has granted the Art Cabin £500 to help buy art materials. A ‘shopping list’ will be compiled in the New Year, I am hoping to buy printing rollers & inks so that we can experiment with mono-printing.

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With the arrival of the furniture, the Art Cabin is ready to ‘Rock N Roll’. I’m amazed at the transformation, and can’t quite believe that back in March, this space was a cold, uninspiring, storage unit .

The art club which begins after half term is full, (and there’s a waiting list).

I am busy planning creative workshops, not only for children but for adults too (more on this subject will be posted at a later date).

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