Tag Archives: ArtStarts

‘Faces in Places’ – Artist in the Classroom project

Faces in Places portraitsCollage of four student self portraits

‘Faces in Places’ is a project I facilitated with young students (ages 5 to 12 years) who are home schoolers of the Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School. This was an ‘Artist in the Classroom’ project funded by ArtStarts in Schools and the DL school. It was as a weekly class with these young people beginning in October 2014 and culminating with a showing of their work on January 17th and 18th, 2015 at the Hidden Garden Gallery in New Denver.

This was conceived as an artist’s journey through painting, drawing and mask making with an exploration into identity beginning with the self and moving out through family, community, country and global connections, past and present.
I led students through an exploration of drawings and paintings of faces, people, objects and settings which reflect personal and cultural identity. Students were encouraged to look at similarities and diversity in family and neighbours for a sense of place and connection, and to engage with their family in discussions about their own ancestors and family connections. We explored  themes of cultural history and cultural identity by looking at portraits, self-portraits, still life and cultural genres by artists from diverse backgrounds.

Here is some of the art done in this project including descriptions of our processes along the way:

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Drawing expressive faces – monoprints using block printing material

We began on our first day with an introduction to the art of portraiture – we talked about why portraits are made and all the different art medias that can be used to tell the story of a person’s life. We looked at portraits by Van Gogh, Emily Carr, Paul Klee and Picasso. We read from the book ‘Just Like Me’ edited by Harriet Rohmer and on this first day we learned about different skin colours and noticed that the ‘portrait’ colour in our paints did not represent everyone. Artist ‘Daryl Wells’ in this book describes how there is no such thing as a single “flesh” colour. This book contains stories and self-portraits by fourteen artists and the stories and images accompanied many of our classes.

Faces in PlacesFirst self portraits and map of the face.

Next we thought about all the different shapes of faces and together we came up with five. I then showed how to map out the features of the face. Because this class has a very wide age range I don’t spend too much time on technical details but rather an emphasis on the importance of seeing, feeling and responding.

Faces in PlacesSelf portraits in progress by two of the youngest students

We then did self portraits using mirrors and a very simple palette of black, white, “portrait’ colour and a choice of one more colour.

Faces in PlacesDuring next few classes we talked about using objects (or animals) in portraits and what they can say about a person or people in a painting. Students brought in objects from home to draw and eventually include in a self portrait. These were objects that had personal meaning and significance to them. We warmed up by doing self portraits with a mirror and not looking at the paper and then did the same kind of drawing with objects. There was quite a variety of things including a stuffed elephant, a totem pole, an eagle feather with a small toy eagle, a snowboard, a ceramic owl and even a violin.  We learned about lines, edges and contours.

Faces in PlacesSelf portrait with a little duck – see the sketch of mama duck with babies

We looked at a self portrait of Frida Kahlo with her pet monkey. There was lot’s of discussion about her portrait which led to how we can express feelings in art and also how art can help us to say the things that are hard to say in words.

Faces in PlacesSelf portrait with a stuffed elephant begins – see the finished piece top right on the first image of this post.

After a mini lesson in how to draw and paint eyes some students saw their expressive potential in paintings to convey meaning as ‘windows to the soul’.

Faces in PlacesSelf portraits with a violin and a very colourful ceramic owl.

We spent some time experimenting with mixing colours and exploring tints and shades and how they can affect the mood of the portraits. We also learned how to mix different skin colours.

Faces in PlacesThis young artists was inspired by Salvador Dali in his portrait

Faces in PlacesSelf portrait with snowboard

Maskmaking - Faces in PlacesAnother component of our project was mask making which we began by first creating a plaster cast of each student’s face. Some of the students partnered with each other and some had their parents do it for them. Because this is a home school group there are always a few parents present in the class and sometimes younger siblings, which creates a family atmosphere.

Faces in Places - maskPaper pulp clay mask

To prepare for mask making we talked about what masks were for and how they could transform, hide, protect and empower. We looked at a variety of masks I brought in as well as  Aboriginal masks of the Pacific NorthWest Coast, including Coast Salish, Haida and Kwakiutl.  Over the next couple of weeks masks were then cast using paper. Some were done using a paper pulp clay and others used a paper laminate. They were then painted and some had added materials like feathers, twigs and collage paper.

Cat mask - Faces in PlacesCat mask – paper laminate

One student reconstructed his own cast face mask into an ape. Using images of apes, he observed how to change features in his own face to become more apelike by building up areas with papier-mache.

Ape mask - Faces in PlacesApe mask – paper laminate

Face masks - Faces in PlacesPaper pulp clay and laminate face masks

During the last few classes we worked on both masks and paintings which were starting to reflect family, community and environment. We looked at artists like The Group of Seven for Canadian themed portraits and landscapes, and again at paintings of interesting characters by Van Gogh. We told personal stories and how to include them in paintings.

Here are some of the finished paintings from this project:

Family Portrait - Faces in PlacesFamily portrait

Portrait with elephant - Faces in PlacesPortrait with Elephant

Faces in PlacesPortrait combining colour mixing exercise (background) and a remembering exercise (drawing)

Potrait with horse in the sunshinePortrait with horse in the sunshine

Me and my violin - Faces in PlacesPortrait with violin

Faces in PlacesPortrait combining colour mixing exercise (background) and a remembering exercise (drawing) and then worked again on a few weeks later

Portait with snowboard - Faces in PlacesPortrait with ‘cupcake’ snowboard and snowsuit

Eagle portrait - Faces in PlacesPortrait with eagle and family crest necklace

Girl in tree portrait‘My favourite place’ portrait – colour and remembering excercise

Mask and painting - Faces in PlacesMixed media – paper clay mask and painting

Portrait with owlPortrait with Owl

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Patterns and Geometry in Nature Arts Project

Earth Art - Slocan Lake

Over this winter, from October 2012  to the end of January 2013 I facilitated a series of art workshops with a small group of home students in my community. You may remember that I worked with these same students on another art project titled the ABC’s of Community. After the completion of this project we held an exhibit at the Hidden Garden Gallery in New Denver. As well, the gelatin plate monoprints which we did during this project, are presently on exhibit until August 13th 2013 at the ArtStarts Gallery in Vancouver in a show of student work titled Botanimalogy. The Pattern and Geometry in Nature Arts Project provided an opportunity for a small group of Distributed Learning students from kindergarten through Grade 6 to explore their community and environment through art and the alphabet. This project was funded by ArtStarts in Schools and Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School.

Morgen Brdati demonstrates printmakingMorgen demonstrates gelatin plate printmaking.

This project aimed to provide these young students with an opportunity to explore patterns and growth in nature through a variety of visual arts media, including printmaking, painting, drawing, earth art and fibre art. I guided students through a range of geometric drawing explorations and visual art experiences. Students explored patterns in nature as well as geometric design in a journey through the circle. The focus that these young students gave to learning the tools of the geometer: the compass and straightedge, was rewarded by their new ability to create the vesica piscis, triangle, square, six pointed star and polygons out of the circle. They were able to grasp basic concepts of geometry, recognize recurring patterns and shapes in nature and integrate them into their art.

fibonacci spiralGolden rectangle and growing a spiral

This is some of the amazing artwork accomplished by these students:

We made explorations of patterns in natural objects using brush and ink:

pattern exploration

Gelatin Plate mono printing using found natural objects and geometric stencils made by students:

Gelatin plate prints

Some of the painted and block printed mandalas:

Fiona' s mandalaShanna's mandalaCedar's mandalaDrawings from nature and geometric designs:

DrawingsEarth art explorations down at Slocan Lake (on a cold and windy day):

making a mandala

Nature mandalaHand dyed folded paper and marbling:

Dyed paper and marblingHand dye painted cushions which students sewed themselves:

dyed cushionsCushions and mandalas on exhibit at the Hidden garden Gallery:

cushions and mandalasOur final project was hand painted 3D fabric sculptures. Students began with drawing designs in their sketch book and measuring and cutting out strips of fabric. These pieces of fabric were painted with vibrant coloured textile dyes and then sewn into ‘tubes’ and assembled into 3 dimensional fabric sculptures. It required a lot of patience and persistence for these young people to learn how stitch these tubes together, leaving a channel for wire which they inserted before stuffing the shapes with fill. They had to hand stitch the stuffed pieces together. Quite an accomplishment!

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Fiona

Juniper's fish

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gallery of student artI feel honoured to have had another opportunity to work with these amazing young people. I am grateful to their parents and to Scott Kipke, the DL teacher, for inviting me once again, as well as to Lucerne School for providing the classroom space and the Hidden Garden Gallery for the use of their beautiful exhibit space.