Project: Collaborative Mark-Making – Light Trails I
Participants: Year 7 students
Partnering with: BBEC
Artist: Fabric Lenny
Science topic: Light
Using the theme of Light as a starting point we will explore the relationship between objects and shadows through a series of collaborative and playful drawing activities which will transform the classroom environment into a mini art lab. We’ll be working collaboratively as we experiment with a variety of art materials, light sources, projectors, and iPads to explore the relationship between light and shadow, black and white and positive and negative. Throughout the project we will collectively explore a variety of traditional drawing techniques whilst seeking out interesting ways of making marks, rendering shapes and creating patterns using light and shadow. Our project will mirror the project at Batley Business and Enterprise College, so that we have opportunities to share and compare our creative journeys and see the different results that emerge from similar creative processes.
The aim for this introductory session was to give us an opportunity to experiment and play with different approaches to mark-making in a full-on and exciting way whilst also trying out new materials and working collaboratively. For the first half of the session we worked in small groups, taking it in turns round a carousel of monochrome drawing activities in a blacked-out classroom lit with limited discreet light sources. The activities included projected iPad drawing, ink and wash on paper, collage work using black sugar paper and OHP’s, continuous line drawings, and doodling with a set of Etch-a-Sketches. We then used some of these image-making techniques to create a huge floor-based, whole-class collaborative drawing measuring 5m x 2m. We will be adding to in the remaining sessions and it will possibly feature in the final exhibition.
“I feel so lucky to be working with a real artist. Everything was so interesting but my favourite part was making different shapes with continuous line drawing and putting in light and dark areas with water”
“This is the best lesson ever. I have learnt so many different things and I got to draw with an iPad. We never would have done something like this”
“We drew portraits with a pencil on a long stick which we had to hold from far away and draw on paper on the wall. It made amazing hard and soft lines and marks. I loved this and will tie my pencil to a stick when I get home so I can draw like this all the time!”
“I enjoyed working in the dark and seeing all the shapes that the different bits of light make. The projectors are my favourite and I never knew you could make art like that”
“This has been so much fun! I loved doing something different like using the Etch-a-Sketch. I have never seen one before but they are amazing even though it is hard to draw with them”
“The group drawing at the end was so much fun. It was hard at first to draw from my imagination but I followed the shapes my friends made and it looked awesome!”
The session flew by. We started with individual continuous line drawing to get us warmed up and to generate some quick imagery. We then chose an image or motif from our drawing and transferred it onto cardboard. This was then cut out. Then the lights were turned out! Working in pairs using our cut-out shapes, a torch and a large square of cardboard, we drew the shadow shapes generated by the torch beam. We experimented with different distances between torch and shape and found that this changed the size of the shadow on the paper. We overlapped the images, spun the paper into different orientations and then drew some more. Many of the images we created initially looked like a jumble of lines, but as we worked into them with different materials the pictures started to come together. Faces, animals and other imagery appeared within the pictures, highlighted by the used of inks, pens and Posca markers.
“The white painting pens are great to work with, they really help bring the images to life”
“It was fun to see messy lines slowly turn into strong black and white drawings as we worked”
Our final session with Fabric Lenny saw us working again in pairs to complete our mixed media works on cardboard. We used Indian ink, water soluble graphite, Berol felt tip pens in a variety of sizes, wax, Sharpies and Posca Pens. Building up areas of the cardboard in pattern and creating a balance within the work between black and white proved difficult, but the characters and patterns that developed out of the shadow shapes were fun. We now have 15 large square monochrome images that will be displayed within the exhibition at Batley Art Gallery. At the end of the session we discussed the best way to exhibit the work. Some of it may be manipulated digitally and some may be projected. It’s exciting to think that our work will be part of an exhibition in the summer.
“The shapes that developed in our piece just from shadows were amazing”
“I just love those Posca pens”
“Who’d have thought black and white on cardboard could look so cool”
Students have gained an understanding of inter-disciplinary links. There has always been the notion that science and art do not connect, and that they are polar subjects. Students now think about ways to include a variety of different science elements in to their art. For example, they want to discuss properties of the materials they are using in order to make decisions. Students are also encouraged by mark making, and have gained an understanding of the variety of mark making tools available.
There has been an inclusion of Science within Art projects by other members of staff after seeing some of the fantastic things that students have been doing. This is something that we have definitely decided to include more of. We really enjoyed turning the classroom in to an art laboratory and undertaking our experiments.