By Vita Forest
This year I have a composite class so there are lots of students who don’t really know each other yet. We seem to have the names down now, but still don’t know what makes other people tick. So on Friday afternoon we took time out from making book covers, doing spelling tests, writing samples, maths tests and maths (we are busy! busy! already) to do some art and work together and get to know each other.
First we talked about how we were going to draw. We were not going to draw things, we were going to draw lines inspired by the music we were going to listen to. Some students looked sceptical. Some looked worried. Some just nodded unconcerned. I showed them on my whiteboard (big slashing zigzags for strong beats and wispy, spiralling scribbles for undulating cello). I told them they would be drawing over and over on the same piece of paper, building it up, not worrying about finding a little spot of pure white.
They took their pieces of paper and chose their implement (a crayon or a pencil). I found some music and off we went. It was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Summer) and after a few seconds, they got the idea. There were mad, fast scribbles to accompany the sawing strings. I stopped the music and the kids changed colours. The crayons hovered over the paper expectantly. Out of the speakers blared We will rock you by Queen, the Year 1 boys chattered in recognition (they had danced to it last year). Soon the room was full of thudding crayons, banging out the beat. We continued on with Dynamite by Tao Cruz, Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part and Wade in the Water by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Then they left their drawings and swapped seats, sitting in front of a new drawing. We continued on, building up someone else’s starting point. Then moved again (Hey Jude – The Beatles, Fly to Paradise – Eric Whitacre, Beautiful- One Direction, Bach’s cello suites, Fireworks Katie Perry and Simon Tedeschi playing Pictures at an exhibition by Mussorgsky).
We sat in a circle on the floor and the children held their artworks under their chins. Very interesting.
But there was more to do.
This time there was two big sheets of brown paper taped to the floor and the children picked an oil pastel or a white crayon. They went and chose a spot around the paper. Then the music began again and they commenced the lines on the two giant artworks. The music stopped and they took three steps to their left, follow the leader. They sat again and I started up the music. They pushed their lines into other people’s spots, over other people’s scribbles, blending, obscuring and overlapping. They streaked their fingers through the rainbow of colours that was building up, layer upon layer. They moved on again. And again. The paper ripped so we applied more tape. Hands got messier, lines became more confident.
We stopped and I hung the pieces of paper over the whiteboard. They chattered on, happily looking at what they had made. It was “Scribble-tastic! Art-mazing! Totally colour-licious!”
I think I’ll show them some Jackson Pollack next. I think they will understand.