Make the most of an arts week

9th June 2006 at 01:00
Working with professional artists can help children understand that there is more to art than drawing and painting. At Grendon Underwood combined school's recent arts week, illustrators, ceramic and mosaic specialists, graphic designers and photographers were all involved. Planning an arts week can involve everyone.

Terry Williams, subject co-ordinator at the Buckinghamshire school, advises: l Produce a front cover for a favourite play or story. Just like a book illustrator, get the class to work to a design brief, taking into account the teachereditor's views on style and content. Children can then focus creative interpretation around a set purpose. Build up clippings files of favoured artwork from old books, comics and magazines or access to the internet.

* For a mosaic, combining regimented sections with areas where shapes are cut more haphazardly gives emphasis. Use contrasting and complementary materials like coloured glass or plastics for extra depth.

* Highlight areas of a painting keeping the rest hidden to draw attention to specifics which could otherwise be obscured. Use paintings to stimulate debate, drama and creative and factual writing. For visual learners, this can be a way into the whole curriculum.

* ICT can enhance and extend artistic experiences, including children with less developed practical skills. Look at graphic designers and photographers for instance: how do they experiment with colour and form? Relate investigations to other curriculum areas. How would you show a character making a cartoon strip for younger children from a complex story for older ones?

Marc Berrett, Arts College co-ordinator at nearby Waddesdon Upper School adds: "With Photoshop software and a graphics tablet, images can be generated and manipulated without children having to draw or paint. This sort of equipment also allows images to be generated quickly and even for children to keep a digital sketchbook containing multiple versions of the same image which can be turned into a digital flip-book."

* Resources and help

Marc Berrett recommends Wacom Graphire tablets: www.wacom-europe.comuk

He also recommends Photoshop Elements: www.adobe.comproductsphotoshop

Simon Shaw, project leader with the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), encourages teachers to search the database of approved suppliers if they are looking for software: www.schools.becta.org.uk

Involving art professionals is not cheap; Buckinghamshire's art adviser Dan China estimates pound;160-pound;200 per artist per day.

Although many (usually for a slightly higher price) will bring resources with them, the whole package could cost pound;1000 or more. The National Decorative and Fine Arts Society has branches throughout the country and may provide small grants: www.nadfas.org.uk

Similarly, for some schools creative partnerships may have significant levels of funding available: www.creative-partnerships.com

If your art week involves visiting museums, galleries or other sites of artistic relevance the Eridge Trust might help: Eridge Trust, Lotfield House, Orwell, Royston, Herts SG8 5QT.

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