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Image making workshops at Newark Hill Primary


Week 3 at NHPS and rather than present more of my own work I showed a selection of images on the screen of my MacBook, examples of charcoal drawings by David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach, Dennis Creffield and Darren Fraser, and chalk pastels by Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Degas, Whistler, Munch and Len Tabner.

The session was divided into two parts to build on the skills and working practises accumulated and established during the previous workshops. The first exercise was to develop a positive interpretation of an owl in flight…………………

………………..then to repeat the exercise as a dynamic negative.

Using the owl as a silhouette my instruction was to employ the medium to emphasise the fluttering movement and speed of a moving, predatory creature.

The second part of the workshop was to work with chalk pastel and produce a drawing using a photographic resource. The strategy however was the same, that marks made suggested the movement of an active and animated hunter on the wing.

Despite the group working at speed, as they were encouraged, unfortunately more time was needed to reach a more satisfying conclusion. Nevertheless the groundwork has been laid. Perhaps these drawings could be revisited when we meet again.


Image making workshops at Newark Hill Primary


My second week at NHPS and the medium used today was chalk pastel however we began by making some observations of the charcoal workshop, reflecting upon the successful and the not so successful aspects of the previous week’s session.

SLATER-Guardi    SLATER-Seabirds

Again I brought some of my own work to show to the group. Last week I presented images with a theme of water, a charcoal ‘Souvenir’ drawing of Francesco Guardi ‘Venice: The Punta della Dogana’  and an oil painting of a sea storm witnessed from the beach at Salthouse, North Norfolk – ‘Seabirds Riding High’.

SLATER-Ruisdael    SLATER-Craignish

This week I brought a couple of chalk pastel drawings which also had a theme of water. Another ‘Souvenir’, after Ruisdael’s ‘Extensive Landscape with a ruined Castle and a Church’ and a landscape drawn on the shoreline of Loch Craignish – ‘Foreshore with clouds drifting in’.

My introduction pointed out the similarities with charcoal, and the work process began with mark making exercises to learn the characteristics of the medium before repeating the technical drawing of a three sided cube.

One of the key features of the session was the importance of discipline with regard to the approach to the drawings produced and of the work environment, both chalk pastel and charcoal have the tendency to spread beyond the paper surface. In spite of that the working practise was not restricted, the activity promoted energetic mark making actions as well as sensitivity, and the results were expressive and adventurous.

The final piece built upon the ‘wide eyed & motionless’ owl portrait of last week, this time allowing texture and invention with colour to play a prominent role. Some of the results displayed real character and personality:

Image making workshops at Newark Hill Primary


Following an email from Lorraine Brookes inviting me to work with a group of children from year 6 at Newark Hill Primary School, Peterborough, we met to discuss plans and arranged dates for a series of Wednesday morning workshops which will continue through till the Easter break. Today we worked together to present the first image making session using charcoal.

The school is soon to become an academy but a longstanding and identifiable symbol of the school, an owl, will stay. We decided this would be a strong and appropriate subject to use as the theme for our investigative workshops as the school takes flight toward a new era.

After an introduction to the group and some advice about how to control the medium, the first marks were made. A worksheet was produced with a series of exploratory mark making exercises which led to the production of an imaginary landscape, then a more technical drawing of a cube showing three sides.

Before making their first interpretation of an owl the group was asked to imagine how it lived and moved, as well as consider its world as a nocturnal animal. On the one hand a world of aerial acrobatics both graceful and sudden as it hunted its prey, and on the other, complete stillness.

The group were asked to produce two contrasting studies. The first drawing demanded an emphasis on movement and activity:

The second was to illustrate wide eyed and motionless concentration:

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