By Paula Briggs
At the newly reformed AccessArt ArtLab held at Wysing Arts Centre for ages 11, 12 and 13, this term we have been exploring the question:
“What is a Canvas”
I wanted to give the children the opportunity to question the surface they paint on, and to explore how the personality of “canvas” can affect the artwork. I wanted to try to get the children to think about the meaning of the word canvas in its most lateral sense.
We began this week’s session with a simple exercise to help us begin to question the surface we draw or paint upon, and to start to understand how the character or bnature of the given surface can impact upon the marks we make.
As a development of a previous drawing exercise designed to help children make stronger drawings (see Making Stronger Drawings and also Drawing Projects for Children ), we began the session by tearing up pieces of newspaper, which were to act as our canvas. I bought both regular newspapers and also the Financial Times, with its lovely pinky paper.
I took in a variety of drawing materials such as sepia ink, black poster paint, white acrylic paint, handwriting pens and marker pens. The sepia ink and poster paint was mixed in different ratios and diluted to provide different hues and saturations of paint.
I also took in a variety of small toys to act as stimulus for drawings, and small hand mirrors for those who wanted to draw portraits.
I invited the children to choose a sheet of newspaper, deciding whether they wanted to paint over a surface which was mainly text-based, image-based or both. Without over-thinking, I asked them to begin to make a drawing over the newspaper. It was up to them if they drew something inspired by the content of the paper, or drew something which had nothing to do with the content of the paper.
Either way, I challenged the children to make a drawing which was in competition with the existing lines on the paper. If they could image their drawing and the existing marks on the paper as characters in battle, their character should win! To help this we held our drawings up at a distance to judge whether our drawings were ‘shouting louder” than the content on the paper.
Many children ended up using elements of the paper as compositional clues.
Many thanks to all the children at the AccessArt Lab!
Would you like to run your own art club? Join the AccessArt Brilliant Maker Club network!