Sunday, 16 March 2014

Arts Award Skills Session

Creative approaches to paint application

I had a fantastic time at Fir Ends School on Friday where I ran a skills session in preparation for a workshop at The Hut in Brampton. I was working with Year 6 students from three different schools (including Fir Ends) plus the Year 5 students from Fir Ends. The workshop I'm doing is going towards the students Arts Award and the Arts Award project is being done in conjunction with William Howard School (the local secondary school) as a transition project to help the students move from primary to secondary school. I think that anything that can help students through this difficult time is a good thing and having just done my Arts Award Advisor training I was really pleased to get involved with an Arts Award project.

Colour theory

The students were looking at artist Gillian Ayres, an abstract painter who works with vibrant colours and bold shapes. For the skills session we looked at some basic colour theory and then at ways of creating texture using paint, pastels and other media. I wasn't familiar with Ayres work before and I very much enjoyed researching her life and work, it is always good to be introduced to new artists and although my work is very different to hers it is always interesting to learn about different artists approaches and thoughts.

Colour mixing

Colour mixing

To help demonstrate colour mixing and show how secondary colours are made I used jars of water with food colouring in. I asked them what would happen when we mixed pairs of primary colours (red and blue, blue and yellow etc.) and then we tried it. I then asked the students to make their own colour wheels and to mix the secondary colours themselves using either pastels or paint. They picked it up really quickly and it was great seeing them experiment.

Adding sand to paint

As the work of Gillian Ayres is very textural the second part of the skills session focused on looking at how to apply media and how to mix materials to create different effects. I'd brought lots of different things for them to experiment with and it was great watching them get stuck in and try things out. I was really keen to get them to think about different ways of using familiar materials, so rather than applying paint with a brush getting them to try applying it with a knife, for example. I think this approach makes art a lot less scary as it removes some of the fear of getting it 'wrong' and it also makes it fun. I believe that taking a creative and experimental approach is not only good in art classes but helps students think creatively and become better problem solvers in other areas too.

Using different tools

Using different tools

As always there was a wide range of approaches taken by the students but it was great to see them grow in confidence through the session and start to really experiment. I love it when they find something they like and come over to tell me about it, one of the things I talked about was the importance of finding your own personal approach to art and to see them take that on board and put it into practice is incredibly rewarding.

Using different tools

Using different tools

I was also asked to give a small presentation about my own work and what it is like being an artist. I was quite nervous about doing this but it was actually quite a useful exercise as it gave me an opportunity to look at my work and think about how it has progressed and developed. I was also happy to be able to talk to the students about 'real life' as an artist; at school I loved art but didn't think you could do it as a job, hopefully seeing that people can make a living from art may help one or two of the students further down the line.

Experiments

Different approaches

Different approaches

I'm really looking forward to the workshop, I had such a good time at the school working with the students. Sessions like this are so inspiring as you never know what new idea or way of doing something the students will come up with and it's great being able to share my skills and see the students all fired up and enjoying themselves. I love my work!

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