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Thursday, 19 July 2012

Outside the Cave

One of the things I love about being an artist working in schools is watching children achieve above and beyond their expectations. This stunning piece of art work was produced by 8 pupils from Greensted Infants as part of their Shine day 2012. The idea of the Shine Day is that pupils from the school are provided with the opportunity to explore and “show-off” activities, subjects, talents and skills they believe they shine in.
The finished picture - looking outside the cave.
For this project we started the day off by completing a drawing of our favourite things. For most of the children this consisted of animals in the wild. Once we completed our drawings we decided to draw images of various animals and add patterns for texture and effect. 

One of the children's initial drawings
The children were shown images by artist Norval Morrisseau for inspiration regarding his x-ray painting in the Eastern Woodland Style. Morrisseau would draw the outline of the animal and then surrounding this with the energy, life force and emotions – responding to the image (see below)
Patterned fish

Norval Morrisseau was born in the early 1930s on the Sandy Point Lake Reserve north of Thunder Bay in Ontario Canada.
He was raised by his Grandparents and through them learned traditional Ojibwa customs, values and beliefs. It was in his youth that he received - from his Grandfather - his "mission" to share through art, all of those things he was taught to respect about Ojibwa culture.
During the 1950s, Morrisseau was hospitalized with Tuberculosis. While in hospital, he began painting and drawing his visions on birch bark and brown paper bags... he painted visions which were uniquely his own. Later, in the 1960s he travelled widely to bush communities in Canada and visited some northern Minnesota reservations where he met with many who today are considered knowledgeable elders, both to learn from them and to teach. He taught by painting, as well as writing.
A medicine man or shaman, Morrisseau developed a style which has since evolved and been used by many Native artists. The style is called the Eastern Woodland Style and can be seen in the works of Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Blake Debassige.
Communication by Morrisseau

Sacred bear with circles by Morrisseau

Image,  Ground, Media or Medium, Symbol

Symbols used in Morrisseau’s work:
Circle - The circles in Morrisseau's work tell us about the life cycle, the sun, the moon and directions (North, South, East, West).
Lines - Spirit Lines appear a lot in Morrisseau's work, as do Energy Lines. You can see them extending from the hand or the body of a figure. Sometimes they are connected ... sometimes they are alone or isolated.
Eyes - Large eyes that see all can be found in Morrisseau's work. These eyes are a symbol of a shaman or medicine man.
Starting work on our canvas
 X-Ray - this is a style attributed to Morrisseau. The X-Ray technique shows the interior as well as the exterior of a figure. The various parts of a body for example are expressed with different colours and lines.

What we used:
  • Canvas
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes & water
  • Examples of Morrisseau's art
  • Images of animals for reference

Bold and beautiful colours being carefully painting onto our three canvases

Adding the black lines

Team work!

Adding the final touches

What we did:
  1. Once the children had completed their designs we evaluated the images and chose aspects we liked. We then looked and Morrisseau’s work and chose an image to amalgamate with the drawings created by the children.
  2. We worked on three canvases, (this allowed a few children to work on one piece at a time without overcrowding) that would be put together at the end to create the finished piece of work. A rough outline was pencilled on ready to be painted.
  3. The children used acrylic paint to paint in the sections . Thinking carefully about colour, brush stroke, directing of the brush stroke and texture.
  4. Once the main areas were painted in the children carefully added the important black outline – for this image this represents the energy and emotion of the family of birds pictured within.
  5. Finally we added some additional detail and texture using our fingers. We decided that our image depicted a family of birds looking out from a cave where they were sheltering watching the sun set and the moon rise.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Healthy Eating Shed

This amazing shed was designed and painted by the talented pupils of Fairhouse Infant School as part of their Healthy Lifestyles week.

For the project we decided that we needed to liven and brighten up the shed in the playground and turn it into a work of art. Working with small groups of children at a time we draw sketches of images we would like to use thinking about exercise and healthy eating.
Mural, medium, texture, colour, healthy, collaborative, design

What we used:
  • Picture frames
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes & water
  • Pencils and paper
What we did:
The children worked in small groups to design their images they wanted painted on the shed. We thought about healthy eating and exercise and how we could merge these together. This resulted in fruit becoming people and people becoming fruit.

Once We had a few designs we discussed which parts we liked and which parts we would like to take forward into the final design.
We decided that some of the drawings were so good that they should be created into works of art in their own right and used this as a opportunity to practice using acrylic paint on wood. The children worked in small groups to paint the image onto a wooden board using acrylic paint.

Once the final design for the shed was agreed I painted on the black outline for the painting
The children then carefully took their time and concentrated on their brush stroke applying the paint to the sheds surface, ensuring no gaps were left and their brush strokes all went in the same direction
Details such as flowers, butterflies and windows were added by the gifted and talented pupils

Finally the black lines were added to the work and a layer of varnish was applied to protect the shed from the elements.
If you are interested in finding out more information on my art work, murals or commissioning a project, please contact