Friday, 18 March 2016

Pictures and Words Part 2

Awhile ago I posted some work that my current GCSE students had created in response to the theme 'Pictures and Words.' The original post can be seen here.

Below is a selection of the development work some other students have created for this project. The following images are all sketchbook pages, showing work in pencil, coloured pencil, collage and printmaking. The young people have drawn inspiration from artists such as Sarah Fishburn and Imants Tillers.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Photography and Construction Toy Dioramas

This lesson uses construction toys and photography to create a sense of drama. Students work together to build small scenes from the range of construction toys available. Young people should carefully consider the placement of each piece, in order to get the optimal dramatic effect from the formation. When the scene has been completed, students should photograph it from various angles. After a series of photographs have been taken, students can review the photographs as a group and make collective decisions on the most interesting and dramatic compositions.

Here's an example of what was created last time I ran this session.

Edward Gorey and Dramatic Reversal

Edward Gorey is an American writer and artist known for drawing in a dense, intricate pen and ink style. I want my students to be able to appreciate and understand his unsettling and playfully macabre sense of humour, and to make an illustration based on his style.

After perusing some of his works (I particularly like The Gashlycrumb Tinies) students will be given the prompt of creating an illustration that sets up an absurd tension by reversing scale. For example, students might choose to draw a tiny dragon being beheaded by a gigantic knight, a little dog being chased by a monstrously oversized cat, and so on.

When drawing, students should employ some techniques from Gorey's style, including mark making for shade and texture, empty space for visual drama and greytone ink washes for subtle depth.

Work can be assessed on the effective employment of the above techniques and the level of absurdist tension in the image.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Exaggeration for Dramatic Effect

A key element of my art teaching is the idea of 'visual storytelling.' I'm a huge believer in the transformative power of narrative, and I always encourage the young people I work with to imbue their artwork with a sense of story. For this reason, I often ask students to consider the idea of exaggeration for dramatic effect.

A great exercise in exaggeration is to create a list of animals and think about the defining visual characteristic of each one.  For example, a crocodile could be defined by its mouth and teeth, a lion by its mane, an elephant by its trunk and so on.

Below are a series of watercolour illustrations showing the sort of results students might get from carrying out this exercise.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Modigliani Lesson Plan

Amadeo Modigliani is famous for painting his figures with disproportionately long necks. This 1919 portrait of Jean Hebuterne is typical of his Expressionist style.

 I want my students to consider the unusual elegance of Modigliani's figures by painting a portrait in a similar style.

The first step is to sketch the face, neck and shoulders lightly in pencil.

Students will then go over their pencil lines with diluted black tempera paint.

For the next stage, students should mix four different skin tones in tempera.

These can then be applied in a loose, expressionistic manner onto the face and neck of the portrait. Students shouldn't be afraid to 'double dip' their brushes in more than one tone, and to mix the paint directly on the surface of the picture.

Students will then mix four different hues of hair colour, These don't need to be overly natural in appearance - it works well if the young person is playful and experimental with their hair colours.

These can then be applied to the surface using the same method is the skin areas.

Students should then choose some bright colours to paint the backdrop and clothing areas.

Finally, some undiluted tempera paint can be used to go over the original lines, giving the piece more definition.


Here's some completed student work!

One Piece at a Time Construction

Students were given a box filled with various types of construction toy. The young people sat around in a circle, and the first student selected a random piece from the box. They were then given the instruction to collaboratively build an assemblage by taking a piece from the box, adding it to the structure, and then passing the entire formation on to the next person. The structure went around the small group several times. Here's what the group produced together!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Drinking Straw Towers

These drinking straw structures were built during an impromptu break time art club. This sort of thing happens sometimes at Red Balloon  because our learner centre is so small - having a low number of students and staff allows us a great degree of spontaneity. These towers are the result of creativity spilling out of the art room and into the community area during a break period.  The photographs don't quite capture the scale of the pieces - the biggest is about three feet tall!

Student Basquiat Work

Last week I planned out a lesson based on Jean Michel Basquiat's Untitled (Skull). The response to the lesson was amazing! Thank so much to everyone who commented, wrote to me, and posted pictures that their own students had created!

If you missed the lesson plan, have a look here...

I carried out the lesson myself this week and I thought I'd share some of the great work my students created following the Basquiat-inspired prompt.

A Turn of Turtles

This lesson was inspired by my love of all things aquatic. Sea turtles are particularly beautiful creatures and young people always seem to really connect with them - maybe it's the idea of having all that ocean to explore, carrying your home around on your back with you. Turtles have a really interesting form, providing a great shape for students to work in. Also, the collective noun for a group of turtles is a 'turn.' Who knew?

 For this lesson, each student drew their turtle's shell to pre-established dimensions - I wanted the turtles to have some degree of uniformity when they were exhibited together on the display wall. To achieve this, each student drew a vertical 20cm line, intersected at the 10 cm point by a horizontal 16cm line. This gave the students a framework to draw their turtle shell onto.

The young people then designed and painted their turtles however they wished. Some opted for symmetrical, ordered patterns, whilst others were more organic and expressive. The students added some Jackson Pollack-style paint spatter to their turtles to create a sense of movement.

The backdrop for the display was made from various off cuts of different hues of blue and purple paper that I had in my scrap paper draw, with some painted string added on top to give the effect of ripples on water.

The students jumped at this project, with some of them wanting to create more than one turtle for the display. As we had some extra time, I let these students create another turtle and then they chose their favourite to join the turn of turtles on the display wall!