Mike Coleman

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Put pupils in the broader picture I'm both an art teacher and artist. One day I decided to set up an easel and work on a large canvas in the art room at school, making my classroom my studio and doubling up as artist in residence.

The amount of painting I could get done in a day depended on who I was teaching - at key stage 3 pupils demand every minute of your time, but if you're teaching sixth formers there are times when you can pick up a brush and "do the business". Leading by example, and being seen to practise your own subject, sends a message that you expect nothing less from your students. You can also use your painting to illustrate ways of solving problems that pupils will encounter themselves and as you've got a captive audience you are sure of constant feedback.

Children are naturally inquisitive and will not hold back from telling you what they think of your work or from asking questions about why you have painted something in a particular way.

It struck me that the art room itself provided excellent subject matter for a painting - a hive of industry all day, and what could be more appropriate than making an image about the making of art? Incorporating several of my pupils in the painting (below) provoked a response that I could not have anticipated. Every day between lessons pupils from all years, and particularly those depicted in the picture, would come to inspect the painting and ask questions. Without planning, it became a series of unscheduled daily seminars on narrative painting to which everybody contributed.

Mike Coleman Head of artdesign, Box Hill School, Surrey

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