Skip to main content

Art that speaks to writing - Writing and art workshop Week 5

In this workshop, I am using art as a means of developing a sense of character perspective. Our artwork looks at 'the people' and how they might react to the intruder. The art and writing are different accounts of the same event. When used in the right way, art can enhance great writing even further.

Creating art that speaks to writing

Week 5

"If an illustration only repeats what the text is already saying then either the text or the illustration is superfluous... The pictures carry the story on their own." 
Armin Greder, The Great Bear (1999)

It is always warming to hear an enthusiastic teacher describe a great book as a 'goldmine'. I find it comforting to imagine them burrowing through the themes, vocabulary and ideas to take their classes to the heart of a book. Teaching that aims to dig below the surface can immerse children in new worlds and, almost inevitably, produces great writing. 

Another rich vein of creative possibility for literacy is art and, when tapped in the right way, enhances great writing even further. Indeed, a study of the illustrations or related artwork can often help children capture the mood of or gain insight into a text in a way that when dealing solely with words can be tricky.

It is telling that the above quote comes from the author of the book we are using for this workshop: The Island. In earlier sessions, we examined how artists use colour to convey mood. Read my blog post on that here     

In this workshop, I am using art as a means of developing a sense of character perspective. Whereas the writing focuses on 'the man' and his encounter with 'the people', our artwork looks at 'them' and how they might react to this intruder. In this way, the art and writing are different accounts of the same event, looking at each other against a stormy backdrop created through our dramatic seascapes.   

Given a choice of charcoal or pen, the children experimented with mark making and shading techniques. It is important to give the children a feel of the materials. The children posed for photographs as stunned islanders, conveying a range of emotions: curiosity, anger, suspicion, fear, revulsion, kindness. Transferring the images using charcoal, the children then used ink or compressed charcoal to add details and shading. Here is a sneak peak of some of their drawings. 


These large images (I always prefer children to work in large scale - small pictures can be so fiddly for little hands!) convey the blurry, erratic drawings created by Armin Greder. They give us the perspective of the islanders to this strange arrival. 

The full set will appear after next week's workshop so stay tuned!    

Popular posts from this blog

Blood thirsty Macbeth posters

Macbeth
Creative writing workshop, KS2
Macbeth is a blood-drenched, gory and spooky tale. Too gruesome for little ones? Apparently not! The Year 4 and 5 children I have been working with this half term have become completely immersed in the Scottish play.  As well as getting the children to write short playscripts, developing the climactic showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (more on this at a later date), my groups have designed some concept posters for the play. The children chose a colour and symbol that represented some aspect of the play (bloody red, royal purple, a black cat for the witches, a chess piece for the king) and overlayed it with words that help tell the story. We used emulsion paint and big worn-out brushes (the ones at the back of the cupboard that nobody uses...) to achieve a battle-worn, scratchy effect. Gory blood splatters went down a treat too! Here are some fine examples!

ARTiculate newsletter: March 2018

Hello teachers!

Well this is embarrassing! 2018 is already three months old and this is my first newsletter. A combination of exciting creative work and house moving has stolen my time. But here is an update on everything ARTiculate and, as usual, resources and recommendations for you to use to add a creative spark to your literacy teaching!


Between the lines: a lesson in diversity from a bookshop in Cape Town
This month I am in South Africa’s most beautiful city: Cape Town. There are many issues in education here in South Africa, not least the massive disparity in opportunity and funding for children in many schools. After a visit to the fantastic bookshop The Book Lounge, I have been inspired by the interesting range of children’s literature on offer; crucially, it is literature representative of the diversity in the country.

A bit of a poke in the ribs for teachers like us in the UK: how much does the literature we use in our classrooms reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of th…

Jambo! Visit to Brookhouse School, Kenya

Our second week on our Kenya trip and an opportunity to visit the Karen campus of the Brookhouse School, Nairobi. And quite an experience it was too!

A private school, Brookhouse is regarded as one of the most prestigious schools in the country and it is hard to deny that the campus is stunning: a small farm with ostriches, secretary birds and guinea fowl, life size sculptures of safari animals in the playground, the library with the 'learning tree' that is also a staircase (and also the pride and joy of Jonathan, the school's librarian) and a computer lab that is decked out like a space station. These are facilities that most schools in Kenya - and, for that matter, the UK - can only dream of.

While this material investment may be out of reach for many schools, the schools commitment to creative learning is not.

Meeting the deputy headteacher and curriculum leader Andrew Kimwele and teacher Susan Bantu, it was interesting to hear the school's approach to creative, cr…