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Develop visual literacy skills
To help teachers navigate AccessArt resources, and to build an understanding of some of our key approaches to enabling creativity, AccessArt is creating a series of “pathways” along themes and topics which can be used in schools.
If you use our resources in schools please do tag @accessart (Facebook and Twitter) and @accessartorguk (Instagram) with any outcomes – we always love to see them! Any questions pls email email@example.com
Intro: Henry Moore, World War 2, Shelter Drawings
This pathway provides a framework for teachers to explore Henry Moore’s Shelter Drawings, which in turn gives children the opportunity to explore wax resist, watercolour, contour drawing, perspective and form, and charcoal. The pathway can also be widened to look at the work of Paul Nash. As with all AccessArt approaches, the emphasis is on a journey of building independent learning through lots of experimentation and creative risk taking, and balances sketchbook and exploratory work with high quality and varied final outcomes.
The pathway can be condensed or expanded but on average will take 6-7 weeks.
See at 10 minutes 30 seconds for images of Moore making his Shelter Drawings
Context & Background
Henry Moore was a sculptor and draughtsman. When introducing his drawings to children, it’s important to remember the fact that he was a sculptor – his drawings have a characteristic “sculptural” feel. Understanding this will help children explore how they convey form in their own drawings. Moore’s sculptures were monumental, inhabiting the landscape, but his studio was full of small maquettes (models) inspired by fist sized pieces of flint and bone. Even his drawings of these small objects feel “sculptural” and solid.
The Shelter Drawings
Some records say Moore made his shelter drawings after taking shelter one night in 1940 in Belsize underground station, when Moore was fascinated by the families camping out underground. Other records say Moore took many underground journeys and saw the figures in the platforms as the trains passed by.
Returning to his studio, the Shelter Drawings were often made from his memory of the experience. The images capture feelings of confinement and claustrophobia; the figures are anonymous but relationships between figures are clear. The figures in the underground, often seated or reclining, also reminded Moore of his sculptures.
(Search Google for “shelter drawings Henry Moore” for more images. We have not included those images on this resource as we have not sought permission to use them.)
Use the Shelter Drawings to…
Develop visual literacy skills
Explore watercolour, ink and wax resist
Explore how to convey form in drawings by using contour lines
Explore using Chiaroscuro (light / dark) to convey mood
Explore perspective to build sense of claustrophobia / confinement
Explore themes of shelter, confinement, safety, being trapped
Guided Looking to Explore Mark Making & Materials
Use the images below (click on them to see them larger) and use them as basis for a guided mark making session. Adapt the Finding Marks Through Drawings Made by Artists resource.
Adapt the Watercolour Washes Inspired by Henry Moore resource here to enable children to explore water colour and wax resist, mark making and colour mixing with a limited palette.
How: Work either in sketchbooks (ideally A3) or, and perhaps preferably, on loose A3 sheets of sugar paper. Try using neutral or mid tone sugar paper (ie dark cream, ochre, pale yellow, grey).
You might choose to run the this session as a guided activity.
Remember: The aim here is for the children to explore and experiment. Give them the space and time to do this. As a teacher, understand how this might feel like a risk to you if you are used to teaching in a tighter way, but remember you ARE offering a structure (materials, technique, colour palette) and you do understand the intention of the session (to ask the questions: What can you do with these techniques and materials? What can you discover for yourself?), but that it is important to offer space for children to take their own creative risks. Be confident in “allowing” the study sheets of paper filled with marks to exist, knowing this is how artists work in their sketchbooks. Don’t judge the marks as outcomes, instead consider them as signs of exploration and curiosity.
Teaching Tips: Don’t hold children back if they are filling many sheets. Encourage children to share and celebrate outcomes. If you feel a child might need to push their experimentation further (i.e. they are holding back) return to a guided exploration with that group of children.
Question: Do your children “own” their exploration? Have they discovered ways they can use the materials and techniques to make their own marks?
Next, bring in a physical subject matter (in this case potatoes, pebbles and playmobil), and combine with the mark making skills learnt previously, to explore how we can create a sense of form and 3d shape through line. Use the Drawings with Mass resource here.
Remember: The aim here is to help children find ways to describe form (3d shape) using the techniques they explored in their sketchbook work (wax resist, graphite, contour lines). Start with simple shapes, such as potatoes and pebbles, and get the children to work organically. Then work up to more complex forms – we choose playmobil figures for their simple but sculptural forms.
Teaching Tips: This is still an exploration; ask the question: How can we draw these pebbles and potatoes so that they feel solid and heavy? You are not teaching – you are enabling an exploration of that question.
Question: What kinds of lines might we use to make a drawing of an object which feels heavy and solid? Where is the shadow? Where is the light? How can we make it feel rounded?
Build an Experience Which Children Can Use To Inspire THEIR Creative Response
Next we need to find a way to help children connect with the subject matter. There are two suggestions below; both provide opportunities for the class to explore emotions and feelings, and how we can express these through media and marks.
By Using Drama
Combine with drama and split the class in 2 or 4 groups. Half the group can make a den like environment and use sheets and lights to create a sense of enclosure which the pupils can inhabit, sitting or reclining in groups. The other group can then use this as the basis to make observation drawings/sketches (drawing from life). Swap groups. Use these exploratory drawings as the basis for more experimental final pieces below.
Materials you might like to use / combine for your final piece…
Graphite, Watercolour & Resist
Use watercolour or ink over wax resist, plus graphite or pen to build line.
Pen / Ink
Use handwriting pen, sharpie or marker pen to make drawings which capture a sense of 3d form through mark making. Look at cross hatching too to help build areas of dark to help convey mood.
Other Artists / Avenues of Exploration…
Paul Nash was a war artist during World War 1 and 2. Whilst Moore was drawn to the interior spaces of underground shelters, where people sheltered, Nash was drawn more often to landscapes which were affected by war – images of aircraft on the ground, or natural landscapes torn about by bombs.
There is an opportunity for pupils to make drawings outside which capture the spirit of open skies, trees and fields. Contrast these to work made inspired by Moore’s Shelter drawings which are about confinement and claustrophobia.
Contemporary Artists Inspired by War Shelters
www.instagram.com/lisa.traxler/ – artist who lives inside a war bunker and uses it as her inspiration.
www.instagram.com/marklippettartist/ – painter inspired by abandoned spaces.
www.instagram.com/ianchamberlainartist/– printmaker inspired by industrial objects in landscape.
www.instagram.com/iacartroom/ – printmaker inspired by abandoned buildings.