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Posts Tagged ‘education’

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It’s always lovely when artists are invited in to schools to lead a workshop with children. At my local village school where the Art Cabin is based, we had a a local Hertfordshire artist called Jean Picton lead a workshop with Years 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Using liquid acrylics, Jean demonstrated how beautiful poppy flowers could be painted. Jean’s trademark is her beautiful depictions of flowers especially poppies (take a look at Jean’s dress, which she had custom made).

To begin with, students experimented with black ink on plain paper, practising the techniques they had seen Jean do. After another demo, students were able to create their own poppy flower on a blank canvas.

Jean really is a character and the students thoroughly enjoyed her tuition style (which included lots of giggles). I think everyone was pleased with their painting and it was especially nice to see children who don’t always find art projects easy, enjoy the workshop and feel proud about their work.

 

 

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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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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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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

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“Oh! I know what will be a good idea” I said with great gusto.

The School had recently had a new extension built, a very impressive reception area, light and airy. A newly built staff room had left the old staff portacabin to a fate of
STORAGE USE ONLY.

“No way hosé! Let’s turn it into an art studio” I declared.

So before you could say ‘Jool’s Annual Hootenanny’ I had written a proposal for the vacant portocabin to be transformed into an art studio, complete with kichenette and kiln. The proposal was handed in time for the School Governors meeting.

I waited……..

After a tense pacing up and down, fingernails bitten a BIG thumbs up to the proposal was announced.

Smiles all round ensued and after a small moment of quiet contemplation I suddenly realised the enormity of my actions.

In this blog I intend to document the setting up of this art studio within the School grounds, the comings and goings, ups and downs and how it will hopefully benefit not only the school children but also the community that surrounds it.

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