Posts Tagged ‘illustration’


This creative project is a resource from Access Art. My art students really enjoyed making these. We began by experimenting with drawing inks, seeing what efffects could be achieved by creating washes, blending and mixing colours. Since we did this project just before the summer holidays, we kept to the same Access Art theme, which was ‘The Seaside’.

Students had fun practising drawing beach and seaside related things with the inks, creating some beautiful illustrations.

This project really engaged the children, we had an interesting discussion about what a bowl is, and for this particular art activity, a bowl didn’t have to be a traditional food recepticle. The wave bowls were constructed using equilateral triangles, and grew organically as the were glued together.



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When I’m not doing art clubs and workshops, I spend my time working as one half of the art duo ‘Quiet British Accent’. The other half of the duo is my husband, Jason. Together, we use a variety of signwriting and sewing techniques to explore our love of lettering, language and pop culture.


This is our studio (it’s a bit messy because we’re getting ready for an exhibition)

Recently we collaborated on an art project with the students from our village school, creating a poster to brighten up the local train station, Cuffley.

We thought it would be fun to create a poster that people could interact with (super useful if you’ve just missed your train and you need to while away some time!).

Our poster is based on the good old ‘Spot The Difference’ idea. Students created the illustrations and Quiet British Accent (QbA) created the lettering and layout; using the red, white and light blue colours in keeping with QbA’s look.

So, if your destination is Cuffley, see if you can spot ten differences on our poster.





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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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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.

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Keith Haring art project

This project was a hit with the kids, they really connected with the characters Keith Haring created. This particular art project included lots of different processes which the children found interesting. The end results were super pictures that the young artists were very proud of.

We started off discussing Keith Haring art, touching on semiotics, the colours he used etc. Lots of information & ideas can be found on this great site haringkids.com

As a warm up and a bit of fun I played some 80’s rap music and the children took it in turns to dance, when the music stopped others would sketch their poses. I created a worksheet with Haring inspired drawings of characters that the children could paint, this helped them to understand that we weren’t drawing ‘stick men’. Follwing on from this, the children developed their posed sketches with a view to created a couple of figures they could paint on some foil coverd board.

Once they had drawn their own characters, they needed to think about composition. They drew around the foil covered board onto some tracing paper and traced their characters in an interesting way. Once happy with the layout, the tracing paper was placed on top of the foil board and the figures traced around (this leaves an impression on the foil that the children can then paint).

Next the children used a black Sharpie to trace around their characters. Poster paint was mixed with washing up liquid and the children painted their figures. The foil board was placed on a larger piece of cartridge paper and the perimeter traced around. Using a Sharpie the children created a border of shapes & signs. The foil board was then glued to the paper with the border. Next the children covered a couple of pipe cleaners with foil pieces which they bent into the shape of another figure (some found it easier to follow the contour of a previously drawn character, using small pieces of masking tape to help the wire retain it’s shape). Small cut squares of foam-board were covered in foil, these help to make the wire figure ‘stand away’ from the foil board, most children only used two or three. I used a glue gun to adhere the foam foil squares & wire figures to the board.

Finally the artwork was mounted on black card and displayed for all to see, the reaction was WOW!

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learning to draw

line illustration using Sharpie pens

I’ve recently been reading a fantastic book by Mona Brookes called ‘Drawing with Children’. People assume that being able to draw well or realistically is a gift one is born with.

To be good at drawing has more to do with being able to see and recognise simple shapes in everything around us and then making marks on paper that are similar to those shapes and the area around those shapes (negative space).

Quite simply, drawing can be taught, just like any other subject. Mona devised an alphabet of drawing which lists the 5 Basic Elements of Shape. Once a person can relate these shapes to what they see, they are able to draw with a much better understanding of how an item is made up of lines, curves, angles, circles & dots etc.

With this in mind, I have decided to see if the alphabet of drawing can help my students. We studied the 5 Basic Elements of Shape, we looked at everyday items and recognised the shapes that made that object be. I illustrated a variety of gridded worksheets with some line drawings on them that the children could copy, just to see how they were ‘seeing’. This was just a warm up exercise to get them concentrating on shape. I thought they did quite well and what surprised me most was, they really enjoyed the challenge.

To make the drawing lessons fun, over the following weeks the children worked on line illustrations made up from simple shapes using their imagination. We had plenty of books for reference and inspiration as we are still based in the library. The students worked on ideas on draft paper before attempting their final piece of artwork.

An A4 piece of cartridge paper had been folded in half and a ‘window’ cut in one half. They had to draw two decorative borders, one around the ‘window’ and the other on the paper underneath (using the ‘window’ edges for guidance). Inside the border they had to draw an animal within a decorative background. Sharpie pens that had thick and thin nibs were used as our drawing medium.

Here are just a couple of finished pictures. The drawing alphabet did help the children with this project. It made them look for recognisable shapes which gave them the courage to put Sharpie pen to paper without having to do a pencil line drawing first.

Of course it’s a long term thing, being able to draw is not going to happen quickly but it’s encouraging to see the children grow with confindence.

Our next project will focus on pencil drawings.

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Kandinsky inspired tree

This is a simple but striking project children will love. A tree trunk with 5 branches is painted using black poster paint onto an A3 piece of cartridge paper. Circles of card are cut out in different sizes and colours and glued concentrically (with their centres in the same place) on the branches giving the impression of colourful leaves.

This is a great project for children to experiment with complimnetary colours.

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