Doodling is good

Have you ever noticed how everything in our society has to be purposeful? I for one so often become a bit guilt-ridden when I find myself ‘drifting’ along, not achieving things that are deemed worthwhile or practical. I think perhaps our minds have become a bit fettered- we are too busy to think, feel or process things….

This little snippet reminds us of how wonderfully creative and lively our minds are. Doodling, far from being a complete waste of time actually focuses us and allows us to ponder, ruminate, disentangle…It’s funny how these precious everyday habits are downtrodden and dismissed in the whirlpool of our machine-like world of structures and systems.

Assemblage art

Assemblage art

This was a very well received art project. I used the example of American artist Louise Nevelson (check her out on youtube: Many artists create versions of assemblage art, however, so you can search the net and find loads of examples. the concept is simply using found pieces of junk, assembled to craft something unique. This is (in a nutshell) how I introduced it to my year 4-7 students, using texture as my assessment focus.

As a class, we viewed some assemblage art, to get them thinking about the artistic possibilities. I asked open questions with the intention of getting them to notice the textures and whether the artwork is considered 3D or 2D (it can be both).

Students were given a piece of craftboard. I encouraged them to bring their own ‘junk’ from home to use in this project. I was fortunate in that I had acquired a heap of wonderful junks for the art room also, so children were also free to explore and plunder the art room!
It was helpful to get them to access their vocab- how would they describe this texture? How is it different from the other things they collected? What is the overall effect? Do the ‘things’ mean anything to them? Why did they choose them? (anecdotal notes are great here, but you can also access this information by getting them to ‘show and tell’ their finished work)

Once my kids had collected their various bits and pieces, they experimented with ways they could be ‘assembled’ on the craftboard. I encouraged them to go for a variety of textures- even soft things like fabric can look amazing when they are glued.

In the next step, they were set loose with the hot glue guns, which they used with great enthusiasm ( strictly two students at a time-this can easily become a situation where safety can be somewhat compromised, especially if you are the only pair of adult eyes in the room!!!)… I have to say, dangers aside, the said glue gun was a source of pure joy for many of my upper primary students. They went on to create mini playgrounds made out of popsticks, hessian-and-shell wall hangings, intricate little sculptures…(I digress)

The final stage of this particular project was to spray paint everything gold or silver, This has the effect of highlighting the shapes and textures (Louise Nevelson style). That said, the sky really is the limit here. If I were to do this project again I would leave it far more open ended, or have it as a skills-teaching segment, allowing them to experiment with using paint, paper, photographs etc to finish them off. There are some great examples of assemblage art in pinterest, a recent discovery-

End of year art exhibition

End of year art exhibition

The last three years have been a blur, juggling family commitments, study and embarking on my first year teaching. Even though I was part- time, it was WAY more challenging than I had anticipated.

I’m pleased with the work the kids created…Looking over the year’s challenges and successes, I think my art teaching philosophy rests firmly in the “teaching for artistic behaviour” realm. This is a paradigm I have only recently started to experiment with in teaching my upper primary school grades. Teaching for ‘artistic behaviour’ basically means that I will give children choices in how they go about producing an artwork, rather than having a step-by-step approach where the children basically produce the same or similar work.

To facilitate independent explorations I provided children with various learning centres, offering different media such as clay, charcoal and objects for a still life, recycled materials, oregami etc that they can freely move between. The overarching objective is that children, as artists in their own right are encouraged to pursue their own ideas.

I am hoping to develop this approach within my own practise as an art teacher next year. There is a ‘Teaching for artistic behaviour’ (TAB) website, which has some great ideas about how to facilitate studio centres, how to assess, and, most important, why it is such a great approach: