Visual Arts Planning: Light and Dark

You can see all current topics in our visual arts planning series here.

If you are a member of AccessArt please use the form at the bottom of that page if you would like help to integrate visual arts around a particular theme or topic.

Here are a selection of AccessArt posts to help you explore themes around light & dark and tonal value, from traditional chiaroscuro techniques in drawing and painting, to the exploration of light with high tech materials.

Please feel free to add links to other resources, or share your experiences and ideas, via the comments box below.


Show me what you see

Paula Briggs introduces children to seeing and exploring tonal value with charcoal and white chalk. Paula is the director of AccessArt and author of Drawing Projects for Children (Black Dog Publishing).

See Three Shapes

Paula Briggs teaches children to use light and dark to explore three dimensional form. Paula is the director of AccessArt and author of Drawing Projects for Children (Black Dog Publishing).

Drawing by torchlight

Children enjoy drawing in the dark with torches in charcoal. By Paula Briggs, the director of AccessArt and author of Drawing Projects for Children (Black Dog Publishing)

Drawing flames

Sheila Ceccarelli leads teenagers through guided drawing exercises exploring mark making to the rhythm of a burning flame.

Drawing shells big in charcoal

Inspired by Paula Brigg’s ‘See Three Shapes’, Sheila Ceccarelli encourages teenagers to explore tonal values drawing shells big.

drawing with glow in the dark tape

Artists Sara Dudman and Debbie Locke entice reluctant drawers to take the plunge and draw using glow in the dark tape and LED lights!

Composite still life to candlelight

Students explore the quality of line making, composition and sketchbook approaches in candlelight.

The winter tree challenge

Young teenagers work on two projects simultaneously: a shared winter forest drawing in charcoal, and a sculpture challenge to make a winter tree.

drawing cloth

Adam Duncan, student at AccessArt’s Experimental Drawing Class with Sheila Ceccarelli, shows us how to draw cloth looking at ‘lights and darks’.

Painting and Mixed Media

Painting the light and dark

An extended project that looks at using paint to help communicate tonal values.

Painting Artist Retreats

Sellotape, water soluble graphite and brushes and went into the landscape to create wonderfully energetic sketches, in just over an hour.

Inspired by henry moore

Inspired by Henry Moore, children working with washes to explore tone.

Exploring with glow in the dark paint

Artist Melissa Pierce-Murray works with teenagers with UV reactive paint and markers and glow in the dark paint.

the opposite of light

A workshop led by Melissa Pierce Murray in which teenagers consider the associations between words, meanings and objects

Glow in the dark models

A project using a mix of traditional and smart materials to construct architectural models. The children designed imagined, habitable spaces that glowed in the dark!

Tape, Projectors and Wicky tape!

Accessible approaches for collaborative drawing with visually impaired students. Working together with feeling, sensing, sticking, video and light projection, this post describes some ideas from a workshop day at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Devon.

Sewing electrical circuits

In this session each child worked on a piece of cloth, held in an embroidery frame, to create a sewn circuit using conductive thread to connect the components. These ’embroideries’ could easily then be incorporated into an item of clothing, cushion or toy

Which Artist: Liz West

Liz West is an Internationally Acclaimed Visual Artist who uses light as a tool, controlling the amount, shape, form, size, colour, strength and quality to fill architectural or fabricated structures.
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