Working off of one of Ben Lim's beautiful sketches from his sketchbook the gallery had used for promotional materials, it seemed like a really good match to have the kids focus on creating an animal using line.
The idea for the project is actually a combination from two different exhibits at the gallery.
In the spring, the gallery has an art exhibit strictly for children. It's my favorite yearly show and the artist who participate sell their work only to children sixteen and under. One of the artist this year whose work really stood out to me was a Vancouver artist named Andrea Hooge. I had filed away in my head the idea of creating an art history project influenced by her scratchboard work because I knew it would resonate with the kids.
But while looking at the promotional material for Ben Lim's exhibit with the gallery curator, I was struck that the project idea I had been thinking about inspired by Andrea Hooge married quite well with Ben's sketches. We both agreed it would be a nice match.
The stars aligned when I saw that our local art store, Opus Art Supplies, was having a workshop put on by none other than Andrea Hooge where she was presenting her method for creating the scratchboards. It seemed to me the stars (or Ben) was trying to tell me something and that I should indeed make sure I included this project in the camp.
Andrea was most gracious with sharing with me her techniques and spent time answering questions on ways I could create a clay board knock off that would allow the kids to experience the method without breaking the piggy bank.
So using small wooden boards I bought at the craft store, I covered each with three layers of white gesso- sanding between each layer. Then I covered the gessoed board with india ink.
A bit of time and elbow grease on my part, but I now had a clay board knock off that would allow the children to experience a new technique and medium.
Each child created a sketch on copy paper. Other than the shape of the animal and key points (eyes, mouth, nose, wings, legs, or paws) there was not a lot of detail. That would happen when they began to scratch into the boards.
They transferred their sketches onto the boards by rubbing a bit of white charcoal on the backside of the drawing and then laying it over the board and retracing their sketch.
Once they had a carbon copy on the board, I gave each of them a scratch pen for drawing. (If you can't access scratch pens, a thumbtack would work just as well.)
I suggested they not outline their tracing but just start adding fur, feathers, or scales to the piece. I have no doubt I sounded like a broken record as I kept repeating to pay attention to the different direction of lines on their reference material...the same way I do at home when I continue to repeat over and over and over for my kids to put their laundry away! Only difference is these artist listened.
They all caught on quickly and really enjoyed scraping into the board.
The works were quite arresting when finished. I was especially thrilled to see that the initial scrapes they made were a grey and that the kids needed to go over a scrapes more than once to get a true white- which created some nice tones on the piece I had not seen kids be able to achieve just using scratch paper.
Could I have better photographs? yes.
However this was the project I had saved for Friday morning while the children's art show was being set up. There was just not a lot of time to get great photos before these were on display in the show and then carried home. But the project had been so successful, I figure the blogging world will forgive me for the opportunity to learn about a project the kids found exciting.
It was great to see such a wide age range of children enjoy this medium. And I am eternally grateful and forever humbled by the graciousness of artists who not only share their talents with me, in this case Andrea, but also create art that inspires me, (Ben), which helps me hopefully create projects that ultimately inspire kids.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire art community to inspire and raise a lover of the arts. A fact proven in spades with this lovely little project.
Thank you Andrea Hooge and Ben Lim.