When our Arts Subject Leader conducted interviews with pupils regarding their knowledge and experience of Art, it quickly became apparent that the pupils could not name any famous painters. Furthermore, when staff reflected upon painters which they had explored with the children only Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet could be named – all male and all deceased!
It was decided to plan and deliver three weeks of ‘Shelton Paints’ to enable the children to explore the work of contemporary painters with a focus on female artists. Tan Draig, creative practitioner, worked with teachers to select painters whose work the children would find interesting and whose style they could paint in.
Tan worked for 16 days with pupils and staff exploring the work of such painters as Gillian Ayres, Maggie Hambling, Mary Fedden and Peter Doig. These artists were selected because they offered contrasting styles of painting. Pupils learnt about the artists and painted in the style of the artists from miniature canvases to pebbles and stones to huge canvasses where every pupil in the class worked upon the painting. Links were made with Literacy, Geography and History. During the final week of the project teachers took on more responsibility for the lessons and delivered whole class painting lessons because their confidence and skills had developed as a result of working closely with the creative practitioner. The project culminated with the school hall transformed into an art gallery – each class visited the gallery to view their work professionally displayed and at the end of the school day parents and carers visited the gallery to see the children’s achievements. To further involve families in our work, children and their parents were invited to send a portrait into school of themselves, a member of their family or a pet. A tremendous response was received and all portraits were displayed in school to value this work and to celebrate everyone’s achievement in art. All who participated were rewarded with personalised ‘painters’ certificates.
Questionnaires completed by the Year 1 & Year 2 pupils confirmed the positive impact of this project – “I learnt that art isn’t about being quick. It’s about taking your time and having patience.” “I liked it when everyone painted the big picture because everyone painted a bit and it looked so good.” “I have learnt new ways to paint like stippling.” “I have learnt how to hold a paintbrush by the metal bit at the end so you don’t smudge your work.”