Art with Purbeck youngsters

This week as AndyKnillArt has moved from the end of its first year in business to the start of year 2 I have been enjoying the joys of art with 7 to 9 year olds from Swanage Primary School. During Artisans on the Beach I was approached whether I would like to go into school and work with the Year 3 and 4 classes as a local artist.

Arrangements were made and on Monday January 29 I went into school to do a personal introductory session. With both classes it became clear they had done some prior research on me.

I used a powerpoint slide show to frame our work together and a range of my work. This included three greeting card designs, my sketchbook collection to date (8) and a range of my pieces produced.

I hadn’t worn my cloud suit although some had seen me wearing it at the beach huts as I did not want to scare anyone. I made it clear that they should call me Andy and it was a refreshing change to not be called Sir or Mr Knill as I had in my teaching role.

I talked briefly about my former life as a teacher, my geography links to another of their current topics and this came up in several questions I was asked later. My health, I introduced the idea that I had a mental health (not physical health) condition called depression. I did not dwell on it but as this is an area that schools are being told to develop further I thought it was a good opportunity to include it. I showed my sketchbooks and explained how for me they act as a diary of what I have done and places I have been to. Later the children had an opportunity to refer to a range of the sketchbooks and several chose to focus on pictures from these for the next tasks. I was asked several questions in both classes, my favourite being – “are you a famous artist Andy?” To which I answered honestly, No. When one of the pupils explained their link to a local and well known artist who has over 150 sketchbooks I knew my place.

The tasks set were differentiated, a school term to mean set at different standards, so all of the class were able to take part. They had a choice of drawing their own copy of the image they chose or just answering the questions by writing about them. In the Year 3 class several chose to answer about pieces of work especially a Corfe Castle canvas. In Year 4 the Durdle Door card was most popular. When shown answers I was keen to move them onto the next stage and give more thought to their answers. While this activity went on I was visited or went around to see most of both classes working and answered many questions.

I modelled drawing a picture and talked through some of the things I think about when putting a picture together. With Year 3 I also drew a freehand world map which one young geographer was keen to correct! and with Year 4 I drew a freehand sketch of Corfe Castle.

I talked briefly about the sketch walk we would be doing on Thursday or Friday with each class. I and each class had our fingers to give a score out of 10. I had enjoyed two hours of keen young people. As I left the school the effect of two hours of constant questioning meant that I felt that my brain had been worked.

In my next post I will reflect on the two sketch walks completed on Thursday February 1 and Friday February 2.