Every second year my son's school employs an artist in residence who inspires the children to create lovely things. These lovely things are then sold off to unsuspecting parents at an evening exhibition. In addition, each class produces an artwork to be auctioned off during the evening to raise money for the school. The parents coordinate the class artworks and, strangely, it's the same parents every time doing it. It will come as little surprise that I am one of those parents who always
Secretly I love doing it, but don't tell anyone.
I am of the strong opinion that the artwork should have obvious input from the children. My idea for this year was to do a beach scene (beach scenes sell well, right?) populated by the children's beach-inspired self portraits.
Inspired by this SmartClass tutorial, I painted the background on a large sheet of stiff paper using a combination of acrylic paint, fabric dye and food colouring - basically whatever I could find in the right colours. I placed the paper on a slanted board, wet the section I wanted to paint and then dribbled the colour down the page, light blue for the sky, turquoise for the water and yellow for the sand, allowing the paint to dry between colours. I rocked the board and paper from side to side to gently mix and move each colour into place. The turquoise had a bit of salt sprinkled on while it was still wet to give a bubbly, sea foam effect.
Once the background was ready, I went into the Year 4 class (9 and 10 year olds) and played teacher for an hour or so, which was great fun. We talked about what the children liked to do at the beach, what they would wear and what they liked to bring with them. I then got them to draw themselves doing whatever they wanted and said the figure needed to be about 10cm high. I didn't worry about exact sizing as I knew I could use different sizes to create perspective later.
The teacher was worried that the pictures wouldn't be good enough, but I knew they would be fabulous. And they were!
If a child finished their picture early I encouraged them to draw some extras for the scene, whatever they wanted. I got some lovely birds, helicopters, dogs, the hand of a buried person and a cute table that I ended up placing on side as I couldn't fit it on the sand.
The children really enjoyed doing their drawings and several told their parents that they HAD to buy the class picture as they'd done such a good drawing for it!
I spent a long time carefully cutting out and placing the self portraits on the scene before glueing them on and framing the picture in an Ikea frame. I was so pleased with how the picture turned out. It looked good from a distance and there was loads of gorgeous detail to look at once you got closer.
The auction was great fun and raised several thousand dollars for the school. My picture raised the second highest amount, over $600, so I was thrilled with that.
I wonder what the class and I will make next time!