As part of the ArtReach KNMA teaching fellowship I conducted a series of ten workshops with the students of the Rainbow Homes Programme, culminating in an exhibition of students work curated by the students.
My overarching aim was to introduce the students to a set of ideas and methods that they could then explore further in their own time. In addition, I also wanted them to think conceptually and to think freely – without inhibitions and judgement whenever they set out to draw something. I asked them if there were specific skills that they wanted to learn and set out to incorporate those in my workshops.
Overall, I like to follow a process based approach to my classes, because I believe that some prior explanation about why we are doing what we are doing, sharing of examples of methods and techniques, actually enhances one’s enjoyment and
perhaps makes us more excited to do what we are about to do – to actually first get a sense of the possibilities before hand itself and perhaps and see some examples of how other artists have worked with that method or material. I also kept in mind things that we had learnt in previous sessions and tried to connect them in future sessions so that there was a loose continuity. I think the students really enjoyed this. Many of them specifically mentioned that they liked the way in which I explained things and the many examples I shared to explain what I was talking about. The works of other artists and so on.
In general, freestyle or automatic drawing, tapping into one’s subconscious as a resource for ideas and forms, is of great interest to me and I have tried to incorporate that in some of my workshop activities.
Workshop 1 DRAWING OUR EMOTIONS
Emotions are at the heart of everything we do. We begin with an abstract mark making activity in which we explore the kind of Lins and marks we would make to represent a selection of emotions. We compare our results to see if there is a common vocabulary in the type of marks we have made. Following this, we drew portraits of emotions and also dual portraits in which we represented the same scene, character, or form, but in two different emotional states.
Workshop 2 EXPLORING LIGHT AND SHADOW
The students wanted to learn shading. In response I designed this workshop in which we explored light and shadow. We drew the value scale to understand how to differentiate between different degrees of lightness. We observed how light and shadow forms on basic objects such as cubes, spheres, and cylinders and how to represent this in two dimensions. Finally, we observed objects around us and learnt to differentiate the multiple ways in which light and shadow forms patterns creates a 3 dimensional form.
Workshop 3 CHARACTERS AND COMICS
In this workshop we learnt how to find inspiration in any object around us to form a range of characters and expressions. We studied some basic ideas for making a variety of body shapes and face shapes, and then, used this knowledge to create specific characters and little comic stories. This was an online workshop and we used only pencils and basic paper.
Workshop 4 INK MINI BOOKS
We learnt how to use black india ink by exploring different brush techniques, and also, diluting the ink to different values of black – something that was in continuity with the exploration in our light and shadow class. Following this, we planned a 4-frame mini book in which each page of the book had to be linked to the other pages under a unifying concept.
Workshop 5 EXPLORING COLOR
We used just the three primary colors along with black and white, and mixed these colors freely in various proportions to form a range of tints and shades which we expressed in our color libraries. The aim of the workshop was to restrain ourselves to just the three main hues and understand how how those led to a range of muted colors – without depending on the formality of the newtonian color wheel. After this activity we made small postcard size paintings in which we used some of the new colors we had created.
Workshop 6 TWIGS AND LEAVES MAKE MONSTERS
We went for a garden walk and collected stray twigs and dried leaves. We then arranged these leaves in variable patterns and applied the concept of symmetry to our patterns to see if we could generate strange creatures and monsters. The results were surprising and unexpected. We tried to color these creatures using some of the notions we had studied in the previous classes such as light and shadow, and how we can use just a few colors to create a range of textures.
Workshop 7 FRAMING AND SKETCHING OUTDOORS
In the seventh workshop we set out to draw from observations the scenes around us. I introduced them to the idea of framing by sharing the works of many artists and how they had framed nature. I also taught them to make the square frame to constrain what we are seeing and only draw what was visible within the frame. They really enjoyed using this device.
Workshop 8 and 9 WATERCOLOR AND COLLAGE
We used freestyle water color wash techniques to create a range of colored papers. And then, using the concept of paradoilia as a starting point we created specific forms which we filled in with our communal collection of colored paper. I asked the students to use strange shapes such as wet patches on ceilings and cloud shapes to see if they suggested a familiar form. And then, to use that form as the basis for our paintings.
Workshop 10 CURATING AND EXHIBITING OUR WORK, WALKTHROUGH AND WORKSHOPS
We learnt to be curators of our own work, by selecting and displaying the work in specific arrangements and then talking guests through our work, explaining the motivation behind the works and the workshops and what we had learnt there. We also conducted mini workshops based on what we had learnt for the other students in the school.