Sketching with Chesterfield Primary School

Enfield Art Circle members spent a fun afternoon at Chesterfield Primary School at the end of June, working with children in Years 5 and 6 to explore the ways that sketchbooks can be used by artists.

Each artist spoke to a different class about the variety of ways that sketching can help an artist to develop ideas, followed by a practical session where the children tried things out for themselves.

Debbie Peaty said: ‘The children were making their own sketchbooks and the class I visited had already made theirs. We started by looking at the concept of doodling – what this was and how it could be a useful way of formulating ideas, practising using mediums and so on. I showed some quite varied examples from my own sketchbooks, then it was their turn to do their own doodles. They were enthusiastic and really engaged with the task with some very interesting results. We looked at using sketchbooks as preparatory work for eventual paintings, experimenting with shading to give things solidity, which they then tried for themselves, once again with some interesting results. We finished up by looking at sketchbooks as diaries of places we had been, people we had met, etc.  I think they enjoyed it and I certainly did. It was a very new experience for me – although I have run training sessions for adults I have never been faced by a class of nine and 10 year-olds before!’

Dolores Kitchener said: ‘Like Debbie, I’d not had any experience with the primary classroom situation and was a bit nervous, to be honest! But the children were really attentive and inquisitive. I decided to have a bit of fun with two-handed exercises, with the children drawing each other – this raised some giggles between them. Then they did drawing of whatever was in front of them, with a continuous single line. Some of them produced really interesting pages. Finally we went into the playground to draw a part of the building with the same technique. Even the teacher had a go!’

Sheila Burbidge said: ‘I spent a delightful afternoon with year 6 pupils talking about my sketchbooks and helping them make their own. Their teacher had devised a series of short exercises about sketching and we spent the rest of the time filling their books with doodles, quick drawings of each other, moving objects and animals, and finishing up with a collage. By the end of the afternoon they had little sketchbooks full of ideas. It was a very worthwhile time, being creative and having fun.’

Bill Simpson said: ‘I talked about how one would progress to draw and eventually paint, presenting my own sketchbook as a demonstration. The children were very responsive and interested inwhy I should spend my time drawing and painting. After that the children were instructed how to collect some paper, with decorative wallpaper for covers, and make a simple sketchbook, then draw in it, and they all set about the task with enthusiasm. The afternoon was a useful and formative interaction. To what extent it will be a lasting memory to the children, one can never know, but I like to think that there will be some that do recall our visit and follow up on some interest stimulated by it.’

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