Sickroom Mural – Process

A little while ago, Mr Collier the Camps Bay Primary school principal, came to me and told me that he felt that the school’s sick room was looking boring and in need of a facelift. As the first part of that, he asked me if I could paint a mural in the sickroom. I had no experience in painting murals before but as the schools art teacher I felt compelled to try.

I asked my senior art learners (Grade 5-7) to come up with ideas for the mural. The ideas they came up with were awesome! They were so different and magical! My challenge was to somehow combine them in an interesting composition which would work in the context of the sickroom. I chose elements of as many of them as I could and put it together in the picture below.

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My next challenge would be to actually get this picture on the four walls of the sick room. I had some help for this as well however. One of the school’s ground staff is an experienced artist in his own right! He is originally from Zimbabwe and his name is Innocent. I also had help from my beautiful wife, Kalene. She is actually working at Camps Bay Primary as a facilitator and was very supportive of this project. We also had help from the senior art club who were very excited to be involved!I actually learned a fair amount from one of the grade 5s who had done this before!

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Me painting doing a posed ‘action shot’ of painting..I had no paint on my brush at this time.

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A close up of innocent, focused on the task at hand!

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Innocent hard at work. He did a LOT of the painting himself!

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My wife Kalene filling in some of the details.

The painting turned out to be quite a job as the idea that I had sketched on the piece of paper needed the whole room to be painted a variety of colours! It took about two months working after hours but we were very happy with the result…(To be revealed soon!)

A creative art class – Making puppets

I want to introduce you to Larry. Larry is a puppet I made to represent a character I came up with. This was what my grade 9 class had to do: Come up with a character (personality, nationality, fetishes etc.), draw this character, and then draw a sketch of what their puppet would look like and how it would be made.

Finally they had to make this puppet and act with it in a puppet show for a drama mark!

Here’s Larry!

Introducing Larry: A shy, comic collecting male turned baseball loving flasher! He originally came from Benoni South Africa but in now living in the Bronx New York and doing his best to fake a New York accent. Oh, and wanting to be like his childhood hero was Mr T from the A team, Larry wishes he was black.

Introducing Larry: A shy, comic collecting male turned baseball loving flasher! He originally came from Benoni South Africa but in now living in the Bronx New York and doing his best to fake a New York accent. Oh, and wanting to be like his childhood hero was Mr T from the A team, Larry wishes he was black.

The puppet of Larry. Originally I was going to make the cloak out of a cloth with a polystyrene ball as a head and cotton wool dipped in ink for an afro.

The puppet of Larry. Originally I was going to make the cloak out of a cloth with a polystyrene ball as a head and cotton wool dipped in ink for an afro.

Larry's head was made using tinfoil covered in plasters and then drawn on with permanent marker.

Larry’s head was made using tinfoil covered in plasters and then drawn on with permanent marker.

The side profile of Larry.

The side profile of Larry.

Larry, the shy reclusive, driven to flashing from an inordinate number of girls turning him down.

Larry, the shy reclusive, driven to flashing from an inordinate number of girls turning him down.

Larry flashing...How rude!

Larry flashing…How rude!

Rembrandt Art Class

I attended an art teacher’s workshop yesterday at the Isiko Old Townhouse Museum. The museum had an exhibition of a collection of Rembrandt Van Rijn’s work from many of the private and public collections here in South Africa. The workshop was looking at the teaching of Rembrandt’s work and activities that could be done around this.

My own copies of some of Rembrandt's work, trying to keep to his style.

My own copies of some of Rembrandt’s work, trying to keep to his style.

I will be writing about 1 of these activities. I teach 14-15 year old’s but with a few tweaks, this activity could work for a much wider range of learners.

Each of us was given a quick introduction to the hatching and cross hatching technique Rembrandt used in his etchings. We were then given a small mirror and asked to make a self portrait, attempting to emulate Rembrandt’s style.

The first self portrait we did. This was originally done in pencil and then we used blue pencil to transfer the image to the carbon paper.

The first self portrait we did. This was originally done in pencil and then we used blue pencil to transfer the image to the carbon paper.

After this we were given a paper plate and a piece of carbon paper. We transferred our self portrait to the plate using the carbon paper. We were then asked to make some decorations around the edge of the plate. I made a small design on another piece of paper which I then transferred twice using the carbon paper.

The end result.

The end result.

This was a fun, simple activity that I could see working in a classroom.

Teaching

So I recently got a post at a school in Goodwood, Cape Town. I’m trying to teach 14-15 year olds about the ‘creative arts’. Fundamentally this boils down to trying to get a bunch of disinterested teenagers to either do some visual art or drama. Though convincing 30 or so kids going through puberty that they enjoy drawing can be tough (to say the least), I am at least confident and passionate about  the  work itself! Trying to get the shy learners to have to act in front of a room full of their peers is another matter. When I was in school I was painfully shy! I would have hated to be forced to act! Ahh.. The challenges of life: They do indeed make life interesting (and one may say: worth living) but they do suck to go through nevertheless! 🙂

If you have noticed the absence of regular updates on the Moles and the Earthworms, this is why. Everyone told me that a first year of teaching can be tough…And they were right. :/ What I can say though is that I intend to post more regularly on some of my experiences that I have in school.  And hopefully after a bit to spend some more time digging and reporting what I find.