2017 Education Intern, Dominika Blazewicz writes about running a workshop for schools with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.
Together with Penny, a volunteer artist, we were asked to design a short but enjoyable workshop for the Carousel Workshop on 26th January. The idea behind the Carousel Day was to have four one-hour long workshops to really engage the pupils and give them a taster of using and learning about different types of art and materials that can be used in just one day.
Penny and I never ran a workshop before – we were always the ones supporting the artists and children in sessions. As we would be working alongside artists, the pressure to create a workshop that would be highly enjoyable, was real. As the school theme was Harry Potter, we decided to go with the idea of ‘potion painting’ to explore the pupils’ relationship with colour. We did not want to make potions to drink; rather, we wanted to explore how a potion might look in 2 dimensional form, like a painting, using a technique which we called ‘potion painting’. In reality, it was all about bubble painting and using straws instead of brushes, which all fit within the theme of mark-making, as well as Harry Potter.
Before telling the students about being wizards and ‘potion painting’, we discussed the art of John Hoyland and Eric Atkinson in the Gallery, their use of colour and colour representation in their work, and explained how each artist had changed their preferred style of painting following a significant event which had changed them and their attitudes. This led to a discussion with the children on how different colours can affect our moods and feelings differently, i.e. warm, bright colours may make us feel a bit more energetic, and darker colours could represent mystery or sadness.
We also did a breathing exercise, where we asked the pupils to visualise their favourite colour, think of all the things that are their favourite colour, and really notice how their favourite colour makes them feel. This acted as a warm-up for the potion painting, where the students had to think about the ingredients of their potion as colours and how the colours represented what the use of their potion (we asked them to think about their potion in relation to colour and to give their potion painting a title which also gave an indication of what the potion would do if used).
The hour flew by; students really seemed to engage with the workshop, which was evident in the laughter, dirty hands, dirty aprons and generally positive atmosphere.
Some of the feedback we received on our session:
– The teacher was especially pleased with activities linked to the topic
– Colours can also convey feelings
– Using paint and fairy liquid can make nice pictures with bubbles
– I liked making bubbles with liquid and paint
– I had fun today
– I learnt about colour and emotion
– I enjoyed it all because it was so fun
Overall, we really enjoyed ‘training our wizards’, and despite our nerves and running around before the session, we are very much looking forward to running another workshop in the nearest future. Next time, if Penny and I were to do a similar workshop, we would make it last longer, as this would give us an opportunity to reflect on the pupils’ work with the pupils, and to even further discuss their relationship with colour.