Friday, 29 April 2016

Matisse Inspired Collagraphs

This lesson was inspired by the cut outs of Henri Matisse. I also wanted students to get a chance to experience collagraph printmaking, as we haven't used this technique so far this year. Students had some time to acquaint themselves with Matisse's cut outs and then they each chose one to recreate as a collagraph.

The young people were given a wide array of materials to make their collagraph plates with, including fabrics, pieces of tile, tissue paper, beads, plastic bottle lids, and bits of shaped styrofoam. I wanted them to see how different materials create different textures when printed. Making the plates was really fun and allowed for some superb materials-based exploration.

When the plates had been completed, students inked them up using rollers and then printed their collagraph out on to paper.


Students then used coloured pencils to enhance their work.

Finally, the young people created some extra visual interest by pattern making in oil pastel.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Max Ernst Surrealist Collage

Collage is a fantastic medium for showing off creativity. It's a very accessible art form and I'm always excited to see what young people will produce when let loose upon a stack of old books and magazines.

I decided to introduce this particular collage activity with a brief look at Max Ernst's work. I explained to the students how Ernst, like the other surrealists, tried to bypass the logical mind and create from deep within his imagination.

After this short introduction, the students looked through a selection of Ernst's collages, They were surprised, amused and intrigued by the bizarre tensions and juxtapositions found within his images.

The young people were then directed towards the pile of materials I laid out in the centre of the room. A successful collage lesson requires a wide range of source material, so I ensured the students had access to fashion magazines, history books, comics, catalogues and illustrated children's books.

With their scissors, glue sticks and wild imaginations the students gleefully set off on creating their surrealist collages. Here's a selection of their completed work!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


This lesson was inspired by bas-relief art, in which sculptural elements are used on a flat, wall-mounted surface.

I also asked students to look at some photographs of the surface of the moon. My hope was that they would take inspiration from these irregular, organic formations

Students worked in papier mache on a small cardstock rectangle (20cm x 15cm).  They experimented with making different three dimensional forms through twisting, scrunching and layering their papier mache. Once they were happy with their formation, they allowed the papier mache to dry and then primed their work with gesso.

Students were then given the opportunity to paint their work in a colour scheme of their choice. My only instruction was that the paint should enhance the definition of their raised forms.

Students then took a larger piece of cardstock. They measured the dimensions of their bas-relief and created a border for it.

The borders were coloured with wax crayon. The students explored texture in a different way by making rubbings from any surfaces in the room. Some of the young people decided to put scraps of paper, paperclips and coins under their paper to make for really interesting frames.

The bas-reliefs were then mounted on to the frames. Below are a few completed pieces!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Guest Lecture at the University of East Anglia

Today I had the pleasure of speaking about creativity to Education students at the University of East Anglia. I introduced myself and briefly described my work at Red Balloon. I then guided the students through an example of a lesson plan that I often use. As part of the course requirements, students must undertake their own creative arts project - so I finished off the session by talking to them about the work they've been doing. This led to some reflective conversations on the nature of creative practice that were a true joy to participate in.

Here's some photographs of the session, and some of the mindmaps produced by the students during the practical exercise.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Matteo Pericoli inspired Printmaking

A colleague of mine recently let me borrow a couple of books filled with beautiful, intricate pencil drawings by the architect Matteo Pericoli.

My students looked through these books and then made a series of foam plate block prints based on some of their favourite pictures. The results were fantastic!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Wall Displays

I had some free time over the Easter holidays and decided to make a couple of posters for my art room. I wanted each display to give the message that art is about play, experimentation and exploration. These were really fun to create and will soon be up on the walls in my room! 

The first one is watercolours and fineliner, and the second is a mix of watercolours, fineliner and printmaking.