After school art: investigating the space


Back to Art Club today with quite large group and an expanded workspace.

This term I want to offer activities that encourage the children to always be looking with the eyes of the artist, exploring, collecting and documenting what they see. I have decided to use the art club activity room as the place to explore and over the next four weeks we will try and look at it with fresh eyes, perhaps discover things we haven’t noticed before and make some art that will share our findings with other users of the room.

Today we started with sketchbooks. The children closed their eyes then opened them, looked around and sketched the first few things they saw that they felt they hadn’t seen before. We tried lying on our backs to get a new angle on the space.

IMG_1568Next each child selected a shape from the table and explored the room, recording in their sketchbook the places where they found the shape in the environment. I’ve posted the sketchbook entries of a couple of the circle collectors.

Finally we explored the room again this time using viewfinders. We’d looked at how using the viewfinder was quite similar to using an ipad to capture an image. The children used the viewfinders to focus on particular areas of interest to them and to decide what to include in their drawings. They sketched in charcoal on white and in chalk on black. Here are some of the drawings.


Art after school: Collecting

Museums of Very Tiny Objects

I’m still feeling inspired from my evening workshop with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination exploring smallness. I wanted to think about this further with art club and also explore the idea of collecting as an art form. We started the session talking about what we collect and why. All the children had fascinating collections at home and could explain why they were collecting them. I wonder if we forget our motivations as we get older. Quite a few of them were collecting things to use in their artwork and enjoyed the process of sorting and categorising. I brought lots of tiny natural objects with me; shells, rats’ jaws, scapulae, lichen, dead wasps and much more. The children selected two objects and spent some time observing them in different ways; colour, texture, shape, smell, scientifically, by language, habitat, preferences. They then talked to a partner about the similarities and differences between their chosen objects. They spent a lot longer than I expected doing this and also created charts and diagrams to explain their findings. After reflecting on the first part of their collection they then selected another three artefacts to build their museum collection. I’d brought a long materials for simple construction so that the children could build an exhibit or mini museum to show their collection. Most of them opted for a hanging display so that the objects could be handled easily. Some liked the idea of semi concealing their display to add surprise and drama to the experience.

I’m going to try out this project with a different art club next Tuesday so hopefully will have some museum photos then and probably a very different take on it.

After school art: journeys to school

The end of our ‘journeys to school’ project. This week the children thought about the surfaces they travel across on the way to school then created textured footprints to convey the feel and look of roads, paths, fields and mud. They then carried on experimenting with animal footprints.

I’d intended to work with them creating a huge map of their journeys to school using all the artwork we’d created in this project. In reality, there was so much to explore with the travel textures that we ended up exhibiting all the artwork on the classroom floor at the end of the session.

I feel that during this project the children have closely observed and thought about their journeys sometimes using them as a start of a fantastical narrative. At the end of this session the children invited their parents to view their art and talked them through their personal view of the daily school run.

Wetheringsett Primary School: Plant scientists for the day

Wetheringsett School invited us to work with the whole school as part of their eco week. They were keen to create a shared large piece of art to be exhibited in the school. Before the project we agreed that the theme would be about an imaginary plant that might grow from discarded plastic bottles as they start to decompose.

The children collected sacks of plastic bottles and more Christmas sweet wrappers than we’ve ever seen gathered together in one place before, there’s something very beautiful and tactile about them en masse.

After an assembly introducing the theme the children took part in three activities. We worked with them exploring ways to transform the plastic materials into component parts of a large plant installation for the library area. The children discovered some ways of transforming the plastic bottles that we hadn’t seen used before.

Alongside this we asked the teachers to set up a large scale shared drawing allowing the children to imagine plants that might grow from the plastics. In another activity they put themselves in the position of scientists classifying the newly discovered plant and determining it’s growing needs and habits linking back into growth as a curriculum topic.

Here are a few photos of the artwork assembled in the library;

Art after school, found and imagined textures

Our first of four art clubs exploring texture, today we discussed what we meant by texture P1060820and how we might use it in our art. To get started we gave each of the children a bag with something hidden inside then asked them to describe what they could feel and try and draw it using different materials and techniques. A lot of the children enjoyed using charcoal, covering their page entirely then making marks with a rubber.

Next they took turns suggesting words to describe texture and made marks to represent the words. I think scaly and spiky were the favourite ideas to draw.

Finally we used rubbings to discover what textures night be found on the surfaces of the school hall. The children selected their favourites to add to their sketchbooks and some of the children extended the activity transforming the rubbings into drawings or abstract designs.

Here’s a selection of sketchbook work:

Studio Sunday, Kettles Yard

Horse chestnut shell with berry inside

Really enjoyable family drop in session this afternoon. Inspired by the Sophie Ricketts photography exhibit the families braved the sudden wintry weather and explored the churchyard with magnifying lens searching out objects that would normally be passed un-noticed. Back in the studio these objects became large artworks sometimes encompassing imagined elements such as fairies that can only be viewed through a lens.

After school art: drawing and collecting textures

For the next four weeks we will be exploring how artists use texture in their artwork. We WP_001937passed some artwork around the table and tried to describe their texture in words (we liked ‘scratchy’). The children were then given a bag with something hidden inside. Without looking they felt the object and tried to draw, with a variety of media, the surface that they could feel.

Next we decided to see how many interesting textures we could find in our immediate environment. We discussed how we could take a rubbing for hard surfaces and would have to draw a softer surface. The children collected the textures on different papers and created a texture library in their sketchbook. They then took larger rubbing and created a communal texture map  of the classroom.

To finish the session we reflected on which surfaces had revealed the most interesting textures and discussed how we might use these in our art next week.

Art after school: colour sketchbooks

Third art club about colour. We chatted about what certain colours make us think about and why we like some  colours and not others. The children then created sketchbooks of their favourite colour using different textures, media and materials. Some people stuck to the one colour theme while others were keen to explore different combinations. We talked about creating your favourite thing in your favourite colour which raised a few eyebrows. I think we’ll be revisiting that theme next week.                WP_001289WP_001294