Tuesday, 11 July 2017

End of Year, Fly Festival and Debs Newbold

We're so close to finishing this school year now and our Year 11s are preparing to move on. We're also welcoming a group of new younger students to Red Balloon and starting to get a feel for what our learning community will be like come the autumn.

Last year we marked the end of the summer term by spending almost a full week at the University of East Anglia's excellent Fly festival. Though we haven't made it to as many events at this year's Fly, we have managed to take in a few of them.

One of the standout sessions this year was Debs Newbold's amazing one woman performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. I was particularly impressed by her expressive energy and dynamic movement - not to mention the almost conversational manner in which she re-told Shakespeare's story. As I had my sketchbook to hand, I made a few scribbly drawings as she performed.




Wednesday, 5 July 2017

New Art Books!

Our Learner Centre recently received a generous donation, which has allowed us to develop our library facilities. This means we now have a far wider range of books than previously, and were also able to purchase some Kindles for the English department. Most excitingly (for me, anyway!) I was given a budget to order some new reference books for the Art room.




















Though I've only had them for a few days, some of them have already been useful. For example, Barney Saltzberg's classic Beautiful Oops! has provided delight to students and staff alike. People have also been enamoured with Bimba Landmann's exquisite use of unconventional materials in I am Marc Chagall,





















I also ordered a number of books from Taschen, some on specific artists (Kahlo, Ofili, Miro) and some on particular styles (Pop Art, Portrait Illustration).






















My next project is to further build up my Art room bookshelves with a mini version of the Brooklyn Art Library. I've already got a number of creative friends working on this project. Expect a blog post soon!


Friday, 26 May 2017

Clay Head Grotesques

This session began with an exploration of the 'grotesque' in art work from various medias. Students looked at images and artefacts from Hieronymus Bosch, Diane Arbus and Kris Kuksi. These pieces led to lively discussions about what the idea of grotesque might actually mean. Young people quickly came to  realise that 'ugliness' and 'beauty' aren't quite as opposite as we sometimes think.

A practical activity involving air dry clay was then introduced. The images below are some of the artefacts that were created.




Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Totem Poles

Totem Poles are created by many of the North American native tribes, and are usually situated close to the homes of prominent families. They often serve  the purpose of telling a visual family history through symbolism, shape, markings and colour. They possess a striking visual presence and people of all cultures and background can respond very strongly to them.

I often use totem poles as a prompt for educational and therapeutic activity. They can provide great insight into the ways of an ancient but still active culture.As a discussion point, they seldom fail to get people talking about what the various symbols might mean. When people are given the opportunity to create their own totem pole, they often create highly distinct, powerful, intriguing artefacts.

The following pieces were made from air dry clay and painted in tempera.







Friday, 28 April 2017

Jeannie Baker Landscapes

A few years ago my Sister-in-Law bought me a particularly beautiful and thought-provoking picture book called Window by Jeannie Baker. The book explores themes of urbanization, the passage of time and environmentalism through some elaborately constructed collaged landscapes.

I re-discovered this book recently and was moved to carry out a lesson on it. Students used wall paper, painted paper and magazine cuts outs to create their Jeannie Baker inspired landscapes.























Other Mixed Media Musings landscape projects...

Folk Art Landscapes

Hundertwasser Decorative Landscapes

Summer Day and Winter Night

Forest Dwellings

Salvador Dali Dream Landscape

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Guest Lecture at UEA

I was invited back to speak at the University of East Anglia today, having given a guest lecture there a year ago. I spoke to the Education undergraduates on the subject of creative education in a non-mainstream setting. They were a very engaged group and had a lot of questions for me - so many that I stayed at the University for longer than I initially intended. I asked that the students participate in a practical exercise, which they responded really well to. The activity led to some really interesting discussions about the nature of creativity and its place in education.

Here's a few photos from the lecture.





Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mark Ryden Figures

My current crop of students continue to work hard on the 'Weird and Wonderful' project. Following on from recent lessons on Tim Burton and Maurice Sendak, students have begun to create work inspired by the 'pop surrealist' painter Mark Ryden.

Ryden is known for paintings that blend the cute and cherubic with the macabre and sinister. Though he works on a flat surface in oil paint, I wanted my students to experiment with creating some Ryden inspired figures using Model Magic air drying clay.

The following pieces were created in this material, left to dry for an hour or two, and then painted in tempera paint.