Despite the hours of preparation (having a much deeper understanding of the amount of planning time that teachers spend), gathering images and materials, inspiration, practicing the workshop exercises with my daughter, research, admin, asking questions, questions and more questions. Tuesday morning arrived with me feeling desperately unprepared. With 5 classes of preps-grade 2's to entertain, inspire and guide though out the day, I was worried that my material wouldn't work. That the kids would rush through the drawing exercises and leave me with 30 minutes of free form improv.
There was only one way forward of course... just to go with it. So we did.
After a brief intro we started with some drawing warm ups. Movements in the air with our wrists then transferring those actions with pencil onto the page. The idea being to bring an awareness of the different ways to use our body to change the marks we make on the page. The response was varied. Some children embraced the exercise while others wondered why we were making baby marks.
Step 2. Expression. We continued with our pencils to make marks that might express feelings. What would a happy line look like? (Lots of smiley lines), a frightened/shy mark ? And finalyy a mark that expressed their feelings that day.
Step 3: Exploring charcoal. Just a few students had some experience in using charcoal for drawing, so it was fun to experiment with the kind of marks we could make. Using the side of the charcoal, we made some lovely fat marks filling in a good section of the page. We then used our hands to smudge back into the shades area creating smokey tones and lots of black fingers. A timely reminder then, to keep hands on the paper (not on our/friends faces!) was mostly listened to. We worked into the drawing by making marks, this time with the tip of the charcoal, then with the edge of an eraser and then with a white crayon. At this point I encouraged the kids to see if they could turn their marks into something that lived in their garden. Magic happened when the children smudged their work (again), finding that their invisible crayon lines became dark, revealing hidden parts of their image. we completed the exercise with some serious hand washing.
Step 4. Continuous line drawing. Prior to the classes I had collected a number of seed pods and gum nuts, so this exercise was an introduction to observational drawing. Making sure that the objects were close to the page, the kids slowly drew the object in front of them,without taking their pencil off the paper. It was challenging to make the contour drawing, as well as keep the slow pace - so lots of reminders and quiet ambient music helped to set the scene.
Most of the classes finished at this point - though with a couple we were able to extend the exercises by the introduction of combining the observational drawing with using specific marks such as cross hatching, sketchy lines or dots. The kids were able to choose where on their drawing they used each mark. Not sure how successful this exercise was - i think the problem was possibly in the way I explained the procedure.
And that was the end of the class. we repeated the whole thing 6 times to make up the school day. Viola. Big thanks to Pea Saunders, Art Teacher from Balnarring Primary School for the guidance and to www.accessart.org.uk/ for their inspiration.
Community Art Projects in Balnarring and beyond