It was March Break this past week which meant I also had a week off from my regular classroom gig. I have been teaching art classes for children for over a decade now. More than ten years! How did that happen? Some of the kids from the very first elementary school art programme I was ever involved with are now married and are having children of their own. It makes me feel like an art grandma. Perhaps in a few years I will be teaching those children, too.
One of the joys of teaching children is witnessing the surprise and pleasure they get out of exploring a new technique. I like to introduce to them things they might not otherwise get to try, things like found object sculpture, print making, and, of course, painted paper collage. I also like to push the kids a little.
Our projects in February were all about drawing and learning to “see”. We worked on grid drawings – what artists call “squaring up” – in order to help the kids understand that they can observe the parts of an object in isolation and just draw what they see bit by bit instead of trying to make sense of the entire object all at once. Often seeing the “whole”, especially of a complicated object like a human face, can be very intimidating, so these grid drawing projects are real confidence boosters.
As February is Black History month, I had the kids work on an iconic drawing of Nelson Mandela. They made an 100% enlargement of the original drawing (above) to go from an 8 x 10 to a 16 x 20. It took a couple of classes to accomplish this. I was stunned by the level of patience shown by a class of 9 – 12 year olds. You could have heard a pin drop in the art room, these kids were so focused!
Once the drawings were completed, we then moved on to making a black and white poster out of the drawing. I supplied the class with four values of paint from black to light grey. The kids were responsible for figuring out which value went where.
Pretty impressive results! It will be fun to see all these posters displayed together.
I will be back to school this coming Wednesday. With Spring just around the corner (I hope) it seems appropriate that we begin to discuss the theory and uses of colour.