Sunday, August 26, 2012

40 artists in a one-stall garage

What would you do with a warm, sticky summer morning? How about inviting 40 art students, all armed with wet paintbrushes, into your garage? Sound crazy? Exhausting? This month I've had the privilege of teaching two back to back art classes - yes, all in my little one-stall garage. It's a tight squeeze, but we can fit 20 students in at one time. We work around the wood pile, the chest freezer, and a couple work benches. A floor fan or two help relieve the Southern humidity. An occasional burst of wind blows our projects helter-skelter, sending up squeals and scampering feet. The garbage truck rumbles by. It's a challenge teaching 20 students at once, compounded by the fact that they range in age from preschoolers all the way up to adults. Yes, there are challenges and it's very exhausting, but the joy in seeing what their creative minds can do overcomes all that!

The biggest challenge has been obtaining supplies on a budget - a very tight budget. Most art classes offered in our city or through the parks/rec department are around $100/student for elementary aged kids. Ouch. I wanted to provide a similar experience that wouldn't break a family's bank. So I charged just $10 - and determined to provide supplies within that range. Yes, a challenge!

We're using lots of recycled materials - cereal boxes, brown paper bags, newspapers, scrap yarn, twigs, borrowed brushes. I asked each student to bring the bare minimum: a pencil and scissors. I purchased Sharpies, gel pens, glue sticks, various papers, and paint (turns out to be too much paint!).

my own kids willing test out some of my ideas

Up until now, I've only taught drawing. But after doing that with about 100 students, I was ready for a new challenge. Recently I've rediscovered the joy of painting and mixing media. The projects demonstrated by That Artist Woman helped shape the direction for this class, too. Here's an example of last week's project - mixed media owls with woven eyes.
All of our classes have been focusing on creating pattern and textures. The goal is to introduce new techniques that the students can  use in their own creations. I try to keep the projects simple enough for little hands (with help from Moms), yet offer enough creative freedom to challenge older kids. So far the results have been great! 

There's one class remaining - I'm still concocting our lesson plan, but so far I know it will involve cereal boxes and color theory. And popscicles.....looks like it'll be another hot August day!

1 comment:

Gail said...

LOVE it, a great idea to combine the two especially when you are out of suitable egg cartons, like I think I am for this year! Thanks for the link back and I wish you amazing success with your art classes.