There has been a myriad of rich and varied art activities during this Michaelmas term. From the set curriculum pieces produced during lesson time and different art clubs, it has been a time for pupils to become fully immersed in projects ranging from expressive drawing in Year 2 to solving product design problems in Year 8.
Year 8 Product Design
It has not been an easy task for Year 8 pupils as they have found themselves having to solve a variety of problems along the way. How do we design a product, how do we show our ideas, what materials do we use, how long will this take to make and why are we doing this? Questions which relate to real life. Through experimentation and adaptation of ideas, the Year 8 pupils have found themselves becoming greater independent learners by working to a set brief and timescale. They have also experienced creating something for someone else. With the use of isometric and axonometric drawing tasks, they have understood how to bring their ideas to life through to the final stages of adding surface texture and additional materials to enhance the final result.
The theme of ‘Conflict’ is a rich and broad topic. It is also a subject which evokes powerful and controversial ideas. During times of war, some of the greatest art has emerged and the most evocative talent. Others may differ in their opinion, but the war artist Paul Nash was one such talent. ‘Totes Meer’, ‘Wire’ and ‘The Menin Road’ were the highly symbolic paintings which inspired a series of drawings, monoprints and wire sculptures from our pupils. Working ‘en plein air’, the pupils tried to imagine how hard it would have been to draw or paint in the elements. Although I am not sure a sunny day drawing the Weald on the front lawn evoked a feeling of hardship.
The pupils also experimented with working in different formats and stayed away from the standard A sizes but instead worked together on an elongated format for their contour landscapes. They also added a contemporary feel to a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry, by interpreting the narrative and redesigning a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry.
They briefly looked at the work of political cartoonists in times of change and used their pen and ink experiments to create caricatures.
To partially experience the life of an artist in the period between 12th and 15th centuries, the Year 7 pupils used torches to restrict their use of light and to work on their illuminated lettering. They have been using ‘gold leaf’ and the not so glamourous kitchen foil to illuminate their work.
From watercolour resist to impasto painting techniques and s’graffito to blending, mixing media has been the challenge for Year 5. They have spent their time experimenting and refining their skills by understanding how different mediums work together, whether traditional or digital. There are basic similarities between the two distinct areas of Art and there are also large differences. It has been important for the pupils to discover where their talents lay and what their style is. Whether they are a digital master or an artist with leanings towards the manipulation of paint to create surface texture.
Academic drawing is at the heart of competent art and the Year 5 pupils have been observing insects from life much to the dismay of some. Yes, the insects are real and no they are not alive. They drew the insects from every angle and transferred their skills to creating a hand drawn symmetrical drawing of an insect and combined this with using the butterfly tool in Photoshop. Digital effects without artistry and manipulation are just digital effects; but used with skill, developed by learning the basic rules of art, they can become so much more. This can be evidenced in their ability to peer teach the group.
As a contrast, the pupils have also embarked on a cultural journey to understand the textiles of the Navajo and the importance of cultural identity through art.
Year 4 have been awash with colour theory looking at the part that colour plays in our everyday life and how it can be used in an expressive way by symbolising emotion. The pupils have looked at the work of Sonia Delauney and Friedensreich Hunderwasser in particular with their bold colour choices. The Year 5 pupils invented some new colours and became fascinated by some of the science behind colour theory. It was useful for the pupils to see that artists can be painters, designers, and architects. They do not have to be just one thing as there are many sides to a persons’ abilities.
The pupils have moved onto creating a Hunderwasser sculpture by using wire, wood and some tights. It has been valuable for them to realise that it is important to prepare before working on a piece of art by producing a sketch and, if needed, to prime a work surface to accept paint. They used gesso to prime their sculptures for painting. Furthermore, they used the Winter sun to enhance their work and create interesting shadows.
Mark making is crucial to progressing in this subject and, with a good firm grounding, the Year 3 pupils have only benefitted from expressing themselves through a variety of different materials and techniques. From black and white marks with pencil, from charcoal to pen, they have focused on their line work. Van Gogh is always a firm favourite because of his descriptive line drawings. The message loud and clear was, it is not what you include in your work but rather what you decide to leave out.
They also worked on creating collagraphs, to provide a relief surface on their printing blocks by working with recycled materials only. The use of layers and textures was crucial to creating work with interest and a feeling of texture.
They have moved onto creating installation art with their clay leaves by hanging their work from a nearby tree making sure to use biodegradable string.
Working in the prep school, the Year 2 pupils have been studying how to draw a face. They closed their eyes and felt the features of their face to fully understand form and proportion. They also responded to Remembrance Day and drew to ‘The Soldier’s Homecoming’, creating an expressive piece of drawing to form their poppy.