After a lot of observational drawing in the first three weeks of term, my Year 10 class has taken the leap into painting. In Year 9, when they are in mixed-ability sets, students often lack confidence with paint and are not generally as open to risk-taking. In Year 10, when they have chosen Art, their willingness to take new ideas on board really expands and some of the most reluctant painters often have surprising success.
We first applied paint with anything but the brush - sponges, palette knives, card scrapers, fingers, scrunched tissue etc. Each student produced 6 swatches very quickly. I then asked them to create 3-4 different A4 grounds each, using texture, tone and marks to create varied, interesting surfaces.
After these had dried, I then gave them a small selection of black/white images to work from and they were finally allowed to pick up the brushes.
The students were encouraged to work up-side down from the images, which helped with their observation. I encouraged them to leave plenty of the ground showing through, meaning that the paintings were completed really quickly. Many students made some really intelligent choices when highlighting areas of light and dark, while leaving the ground showing through to create the mid-tones.
I tend to begin projects and topics with activities that let students explore materials, record from sources and generally loosen their work up.
In the last week or so, I have found myself digging out black and white acrylics, inks and charcoal on a very regular basis! I find that having success with one group can often encourage me to try something similar with other classes, adapting ideas and changing the focus for different ages and themes as necessary.
Extending the whole black/white theme, I have also been encouraging the Y13s to develop through experimentation with a range of different processes and layering within a single image.
We started with a mid-tone charcoal ground - using the side of a large charcoal stick to create even tone. The students then worked quickly from their own photos and objects, using diluted ink and a brush. No pre-drawing was allowed (or needed!) as the ink dries fairly pale and sinks into the surface quickly.
Once the students were happy with their designs, taking about 15 mins, I handed out white acrylic and some blacker ink for further developments. The charcoal and ink blend with the white acrylic to allow students to create greys and mid-tones.
The following lesson, I encouraged students to take some risks, collaging with strips of masking tape and torn newspaper pages. Some enhanced the work, others deliberately covered key areas of their design, forcing them to re-work sections.
Finally, the students worked back into their pieces with the same materials, some adding details and textures with fineliners. These took around 2 hours in total to complete.