A bit about my art teaching.
Some background, general information about my art groups.
I don’t always use these approaches, but they do influence how I work with the students.
Some background/Aims to my projects:
1. To develop the pupils' ability to draw what they see, from "real life", (observational drawing).
2. To exercise the pupils' imaginations and memories, to allow them to express themselves and their own ideas.
3. To familiarize the pupil with a wide variety of techniques and genres, in as varied a way as possible, (e.g. printing, painting, Clay work, 3D paper work, tissue, collage, drawing, etc.).
These three areas supplement the English National Curriculum requirements and other school courses, giving pupils extra art resources they can draw upon during their future education.
I have my own "library" of art projects, which I am always adding to, (my own project ideas as well as other peoples'.) I adapt the projects to the capabilities of the pupils, simplifying or making more challenging. Generally, I try to complete each project in the same week but complex work sometimes takes longer to finish.
Whilst the children enjoy each other's company, (the social side is of course important), I do put the emphasis on making art: I see the once-a-week art group as a real opportunity for artistic growth.
I believe the best way to develop artistically is to be in a non-competitive, sympathetic, creative environment and to enjoy making art. I endeavor to create this atmosphere in my art groups.
The lesson is usually divided into two parts:
1. During the first part of the lesson we make, what I call: "warm-up, (observational) drawings" - "training the eye to see".
2. The rest of the lesson uses the imagination, in, what I refer to as, the "Main Project".
A word about these "warm-up, (observational)" drawings:
(A) The pupils copy something from real life or a given picture, (often, something I draw on the board). They draw this as realistically as they can.
I use various drawing techniques to help them draw what they see accurately: "contour", "jigsaw", "negative/positive shape", "folded paper" methods and more.
These observational drawing techniques teach the pupil to really look. I tell the class, this type of drawing is like learning the alphabet, to help you read. I explain that, when we first try to draw what we see, our eyes often play tricks on us, but if we practice, we will able to draw more and more realistically, just as, by practicing, we become better and better at reading.
I then go round the class pointing out differences between the pupils' drawings and the image they have just copied. I have found that once they see a discrepancy, rather than being discouraged, they are usually fascinated. An enthusiastic, "Oh, I see!!" is the commonest response I get.
Each time they "see", their artistic skills grow.
(B) Next, I ask them to add things, from their own imagination, to their copied drawing,, (staying with the same theme.)
At this point a drawing can become very full, even chaotic, and it is sometimes hard to see the original ''copied" drawing under the child's additions.
Although these drawings may sometimes look a mess, the processes involved in their making are very important to creative growth: both observational and imaginative drawing methods, combined in one picture.
The rest of the lesson:
This is taken up with the "main project". Here we use different techniques and genres but the focus is on using the imagination. During this part of the lesson I encourage freedom of expression: they are creating from their own imaginations, not, generally, reproducing something from "real life", so there is little they can "do wrong". During these main projects I try to be very sensitive to their work, and not to "criticize". I help them with technical stuff - how to mix a colour - cutting out, suggesting an idea if they are stuck, and so forth., but I mostly, just encourage them and genuinely marvel at their creations!
If you wish to see more about the projects, drawing techniques, approaches, etc., I use in these art-groups, please, feel free to contact me, (or come along to my art group for parents, and experience them for yourself!)
Below are samples of some of the books and writers I use as resources for my teaching, books I would recommend if you are interested in making art yourself: Betty Edwards: "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain", "Drawing on the Artist Within. "Mona Brookes: "Drawing with Children”, a method that works for adults too. "Nicholas Rourkes: "Art Synectics", "Design Synectics," etc. - numerous children's art books and magazines and my own ideas.