Thursday, 10 September 2015

Art Hour at Kandivali School

Children of Kandivali School
We conducted a workshop for the School in Kandivali West, Charkop on 28th August. The participants were 42 students of the 5th E class.The two aims of this workshop were: a) to experiment with the children about their ideas and understanding of their self through an activity: “Self Portrait”, and b) to introduce them to imagining freely while creating art. Following activities were carried out during the hour long session.

Mind Exercise

A random word is given to the children as a starting point. They have to immediately say the first word that comes to their mind without thinking much. As the exercise went on, children became alert and enthusiastic about quickly responding to the words that were spoken spontaneously by them. This activity helped to bring their attention to the next activities. This exercise helps stimulate the mind.

Random Things Random Colour

Random Things Random Colour Activity: Children in the class
The aim of this activity is to break the predefined notion of relating a particular thing with a particular colour. For example a sky is usually thought of as blue, a tree as green, an apple red, and a flower is normally never related to a green colour. Because these visible relations are seen in day today life, there’s a tendency to work with these limited notions even while creating a work of art. As with art, this pre-defined knowledge interferes and limits the imagination to freely create anything. 

Also, as children grow with age, realistic images greatly dominate their mind. When they see a face they see so much detail that they tend to always represent everything in a complex, realistic way rather than simplifying it to abstract shapes. So they stop seeing a face as a circle or a mountain as simply a triangle which they used to when they were pre-schoolers. As they get increasing exposure to real/practical world's concepts, the simplicity of their creation is replaced by too much realistic information. 

In art, what matters is a limitless imagination. And children can imagine that Shapes like triangle, circle can be used to represent real world object and also can be alive too like any other realistic objects. It would be enjoyable if one imagines that these abstract shapes can have emotions like happy, sad, and furious. Circles can dance and lines can be angry if children imagine them to be. So through this activity, children were introduced to this concept.

This activity broadly focuses on letting children understand that in order to create something new, they have to think out of the box (keeping the pre-set notions aside). When children will be introduced and encouraged to thinking out of the box, they can set their imagination free without limits and boundaries and create something truly amazing and original.
For this exercise, we kept two boxes, each having chits. One box had chits with names of colours and other box had chits with names of things (objects, shapes). 2 chits were picked up (one from each box) randomly and the combination was announced to them. The children could freely arrange the combinations on the paper. E.g. Blue Tree, Red smiles, Yellow dancing circle, Angry Green spiral.
Random things Random Colour: [First Row: work 1, work 2  Second Row: work 3, work 4]


They understood the concept but kept on repeating the same combination on the paper just to fill it. Very few students worked towards arranging the combinations on the paper which showed that they were trying to relate the combinations in some way. work 1 shows some relation between smile and the rest of the combinations making it look like 3 distinct figures.

work 2 has some bold strokes and all the combinations intermingled in one another. The broad strokes are very distinctive so I tried to check this student’s work in the other activity as well to identify whether she worked with similar broad and bold lines. The self portrait created by this student (self portrait 6) also contains similar broad strokes and no use of collage. Many students did not understand how to draw dancing circle, or angry spiral. Unfortunately due to lack of time, it was difficult for them to get a hang of it.

[work 5, work 6]
 Some children could create patterns of these combinations; others simply overlapped one on other. Also the work 6(the big patches of colour) is done by a child who, despite a physical disability with his fingers, was very enthusiastic about creating and experimenting these combinations on paper. 
[work 7]
Work 7: looks like a landscape, where the student created a horizon line with mountains and the Sun and he has tried to arrange the combinations with respect to a landscape. E.g. Trees on the ground, green spirals like a grass, all the tick marks look like waves in the black pond. Its not clear whether the student did this deliberately to make it look like a landscape but its thought provoking to identify whether new ideas interfere with their existing knowledge and how children perceive new concepts. 

Self Portrait

A portrait is the depiction of features of a person’s face. In our practical world, the face and physical features of the face is the identity of a person. It’s a statement of who the person is. Moreover a self-portrait is something that artists create by drawing their own self (their face) in the mirror. However, a self portrait can be much more than a mirror image of the physical features. It can be a collage of all the things that identify us, are beloved to us, that represent us. This activity was an attempt to identify whether children relate to their individuality and self. They were asked to create a self-portrait by drawing all the things that they love and feel those things represent them the best.

Some clues were given to the children to allow them to think about the things/object that they like to represent themselves with e.g children were asked about activities they like, food they enjoy eating, nature and animals they love etc. Based on their own answers to these questions, they created their self-portrait by selecting and drawing whatever that they thought represented them the most.

Some children produced interesting results.
[Self Portrait 1]

Self Portrait 1: This is a portrait created by a girl She created a very thoughtful composition. Although looks like she spent all the time in drawing. She did not paint it at all, except pasting the coloured strips. She has pasted the coloured strips very elegantly too. It’s surprising that, such a beautiful composition is without colours.

Self Portrait 2
Self Portrait 2: This is a self portrait created by another girl. She has created a unique shape and she has drawn lot of objects and things she liked like home, tree, mountains, paint, boat, car, ice cream, sun. She also pasted 2 paper pieces : one with plants, other with mountains and river. As there were many students and the time was very less, we could not spend time with children reflecting on their self-portrait work. It is  important that the children talk about their self-portrait describing elements they included in it.

It was observed that some children did not know what to do with collage. The collage material (some coloured paper strips/torn paper pieces) was given to them in the middle of the activity. But this actually confused them, Collage was just an option with which they could work/experiment as an added possibility of creation but instead, children considered that they had to stick the papers somehow as a task and pasted the paper pieces even on the top of the drawings they had created. So it’s important to let them be aware that, the paper pieces are to allow them to get triggered with their creativity and not for sticking just to fill the paper. 

[Self Portrait 3]

 Self Portrait 3: This is a self portrait created by the same student who created Work 6

Some more self portraits:

[First Row:Self Portrait 4, Self Portrait 5, Second Row: Self Portrait 6, Self Portrait 7]
[First Column: Self Portrait 8, Self Portrait 9, Second Column: Self Portrait 10]
It is interesting to find that children, contrary to popular belief, are able to understand and able to respond to abstract concepts, out of the box thinking and self identification (self portrait) art. Even in the short time available, some of the works created stood out as unique. If children are provided the right direction and encouragement to freely create and are allowed time to develop their imaginative capabilities, they have the potential to create original works of art.

~By Shiwalee.

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