Thursday, 16 June 2016

Summer Exhibitions

For our AS students who are now back with us beginning their second year we set them a summer task to visit an exhibition! I've spent the morning compiling a list of suggestions (mostly London based) from my students and thought it might be handy to share with you all! I'm looking forward to attending the Royal Academy Summer Show next week as a trip for our students (Kirsty is attending too!) and I'm visiting Part 1 of New Designers. After those I'll need to start planning a few to visit over the summer. I've heard good things about Mona Hatoum at the Tate and am keen to check out Conceptual Art in Britain as well as Exhibitionism - if the Bowie exhibition at the V&A is anything to go by for an art/music collaborative show it's bound to be good!

Where: Business Design Centre Islington, London
Cost: £12 (in advance) £16 (on the door)
Where: Truman Brewery, London
Cost: Free


Where: Royal Academy, London
Cost: £13.50 or £10 with student card

Where: Tate Britain, London
Cost: £12 or £10.50 with student card

What: Mona Hatoum 
Where: Tate Modern, London
Cost: £16 or £14 with student card

Where: Tate Modern. London
Cost: £19 or £17

Where: Tate, Liverpool
Cost: £13.20 or £10.45 with student card

Where: Serpentine
Cost: Free

Where: National Portrait Gallery, London
Cost: free

Where: National Gallery, London
Cost: £10 or £5 with student card

Where: Saatchi Gallery, London
Cost: £20-22 or £18-20 with student card (it's cheaper to go Monday-Thursday + no student rate on Saturdays)

Where: Whitechapel, London
Cost: free

Where: Hauser & Wirth, Somerset
Cost: Free

Where: Hauser & Wirth, London
Cost: Free

Where: Shoreditch, London
Cost: £12-15 depending on which tour you take!

Let us know if you visit any of the exhibitions and share what you think with us + we'd love to hear any suggestions for exhibitions further afield!

- Claire 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Literacy Jenga

Inspired by the great Mrs Arty Textiles I decided to finally test out literacy jenga this week with my A2 classes to push the use of educational gaming and make literacy more appealing and less daunting. I'm also a huge lover of independent learning and believe strongly that they my students should be coming up with their own innovative ideas as practicing artists so took the opportunity to test the much loved family game with target setting.

Within my current SOW we are currently reaching the end of initial responses and I find that students can sometimes miss the important elements from their artists. So, before it was too late we started with a brief peer response and focused on descriptive language. I have recently found the fantastic App Wordswag and use it for making engaging visuals within lessons. The students love it and since the use of the App I have found that they have become more focused on specific tasks and are able to respond to questioning more confidently. I also use the App for projecting homework at the end of a lesson and hope that my students become more excited about the thought of extension tasks.

After this initial activity I split the class into groups of 4-5 and each group received a 'literacy jenga' pack with visual, technical and descriptive keywords on it. My classes like competing against one another and taking part in 'Art Olympics' so it was great to see 17-18 year olds so enthralled in stacking the game together. Once the jenga was constructed each student took it in turns to pick out a keyword and write it on the template above. As a group, we continued until each person had either 4 keywords each or the tower block tumbled!

It was fantastic to watch each group racing to write language down and taking risks at how the 3D form could balance on one block. The students then used the words to independently set themselves targets (one for that lesson) and embedded the keyword within a to-do list. Within that lesson I saw a huge improvement in the quality of written work and it was great to see all learners still actively using the sheet in follow-up lessons and within their analysis of preparatory work.

At the end of the lesson students returned to their original partner from the descriptive language activity and assessed if they had achieved their target from 1-10. Much to my surprise all students in the class were above halfway and all had confident explanations as to how they had met their target and improved developmental work in just 35 minutes. The pace and quality of work that was produced in this lesson was brilliant and my learners are participating more actively in independent work within 24 hours!

The literacy buzz is catching and it's already going around the rest of the department that my classes have been playing jenga in lessons. I love that my students are willingly producing more written work from this activity and I can't wait to test the game out again but with a different take. We'd love to collaborate/share resources with other teachers so if you are interested in making words more engaging within art and design then leave a comment below #literacyjenga.
- Kirsty ❤ 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Digital: Promoting your student artwork!

Art education and the use of social media has caused a bit of a stir lately but, for my department it really has made a difference in our students (and potential new students!) engagement and possibilities within Fine Art. This academic year has been the most challenging and rewarding of my teaching career so far and through the more difficult times I have been fortunate enough to gain continuous CPD through the Facebook group of NSEAD. It really is a fantastic resource and teachers from up and down the country are sharing inspiring ideas, resources and examples of excellence every single day. This site made me think about the new digital age and how it is now more relevant than ever to be seen and heard online. Social media really has made a massive difference in the promotion of my course and more importantly, made a significant impact on my students knowledge within the arts!

So, wondering where you start?

First things first - create a brand for yourselves! It is important for your students and others to recognise who you are and establish a connection. I created our own identity by making a logo and selecting a colour and font that would work best for us. We use our logo for everything - from signs around the department, open day events, taster sessions, briefs for students, social media sites, icons on emails, competitions such as the Saatchi, publicity for Reps, etc. It really does make a massive impact in drawing attention as to who we are as a department and highlighting attention to our students work.

Lastly, make your own tag so people can start locating your work and identifying you on multiple sites. Ours is fsfcfineart - we even have our own hashtag: #fsfcfineart!

Some of you may remember Claire's wonderful series of posts on 'digital tools'. The blog gives you a real snapshot of what ticks our boxes in the world of digital media and how you can use it yourself to make your students learning experience more exciting. For us, Flickr was where everything began and we find it fab for sharing past/present work with our students and they can access it both at home and in college.

Additionally, you can create your own albums to categorise styles of artworks or split between year groups, final pieces and preparatory work. It also saves on time in taster sessions and instead of creating a PPT of student examples you can play your Flickr page on a continuous slide show to inspire learners. We even use it for Open day events and end of year exhibitions to create a real buzz within the department!

This is old news nowadays but if you haven't got it - do! Pinterest really is the most incredible resource for the visual arts and students respond to it really well. On our Pinterest board we have created over 60 boards of artists and techniques that make us tingle with excitement and our students use the site successfully to share ideas and to inspire one another. Pinterest has allowed us to network with fellow teachers, students, businesses and galleries around the world and as a department we have over 1000 followers. 

We have also made our own YBA (Young British Artist) board to showcase students work that we are a teeny bit envious of. It has been up and running for less than 6 months and already has nearly 700 followers. The images pinned are from our portfolio of student work on our Flickr page and additionally gives our students the possibility of building employability links and being contacted by potential artists and galleries interested in their work. It also lets our followers see who and what we are and helps build networking opportunities and relationships with brands such as Fujitsu.


Instagram was initially recommended by one of my students and after a few discussions in class I found that several of my students were already using the social media site for their own publication of artwork and gaining huge successes from it. About three weeks ago, I decided to try a new digital venture for the department and since launching our own page we already have over 100 followers. Our students have responded positively to the site and many have followed us - checking daily to see new ideas from fellow students in both AS and A2. Through hashtags we have been able to create an online following and draw attention to what we want people to look at. For example: #fsfcfineart, #studentartwork #expressivepainting, etc. Our page has also enabled us to find new artists and follow galleries for inspiring artwork for our students. Our students can then click on what we 'like' and within the past week some students have already approached me through our online signposting for artist research!

It makes me incredibly proud to see my students receive the attention they deserve and even prouder to see them independently critique and compliment one another's artwork. In turn, this positive praise gives my students more confidence within the classroom and successfully introduces them to new initiatives and links within the art world.

Now, I won't lie.. the above does take time and we try to post on each social media site at least once a week to keep our audience happy. All of the above sites have an App and once set up it is pretty quick to post something from your phone and access it without a computer. We even have our own QR codes within the classroom for students to access in lessons and we publicise these also on our course leaflets and next to paintings around the college (linking back to our Flickr account).

We'd love to digitally interact with other educational institutions so if you use a digital tool for the promotion of your student artwork then let us know by either following us or leaving a comment on the end of this blog post!
- Kirsty 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

technique: monoprinting

A few months back Claire did a post about monoprinting with leaves and experimenting with using natural forms as resist. I've always loved monoprinting but for some reason my learners have never seemed to of engaged with the technique. For the past 6 weeks I have been teaching my AS Fine Art students a series of creative techniques before they take the plunge into their first project and the following technique captured their imaginations and enabled them to build and draw upon exciting layers!

Over the Summer myself and Claire were super lucky to find this idea on the NSEAD Online Facebook group. If you aren't a member then join - the wealth of resources shared with all levels of art educators is amazing. After a bit of a play with the technique I thought about how I could make it more advance for my students and this is where I experimented with masking tape layers and washes to build up the texture and tone within the print. This technique would work well for any initial responses or as a quick method of recording to change the direction of a project and more importantly all my students relished in getting messy, testing alternative drawing methods and combining medias!

Follow the below steps to give it a go with your classes this month...

What you need:

• Block Printing ink (water or oil based)
• Print rollers
• Acrylic paint
• Masking tape
• Newspaper / Magazines
• Cardboard or any mixed-media base
• Relevant imagery to monoprint / draw on top of


1) Take your base (cardboard works great as it enables your students to work on top of a new exciting media) and choose a light colour of acrylic paint to work on top of. It is important it is light so that the print and layers you are about to build up stay clear. I told my students to ensure the colour reflected the mood of the image they were studying or you could link it to colour theory. Dry with a hairdryer before proceeding to step 2.

2) Start to build up layers with masking tape - thinking about the direction and scale of strips applied. I taught my students a technique called 'masking tape transfer' to add more depth to their base. To create this technique, simply apply masking tape directly onto any printed image (magazines, newspapers, train tickets, etc work great due to the quality of the ink!). Once stuck firmly down to the image/text - simply peel straight off! You will be left with the ink on the tape and what's great is that the masking tape is still sticky and can be applied straight on top of your base.

3) Apply a thin wash of white acrylic paint on top of the masking tape layer to ensure your print will stand out.

4) Roll your ink on to the back of a printed image (make sure your image is mirrored so it comes out the right way!) and rub off the excess ink with spare newspaper. I used black ink so it made a real contrast to the yellow background layer but you could experiment with single/multiple colour ways! Once you have rubbed the excess ink off, place the inked image face down on top of your masking tape base and start tracing on top of your image with a biro or sharp pencil. Once you have completed your drawing remove the printed image and ta-dah! You have been left with a unique and experimental printed drawing like below.

Tip: Less ink is more and the sharper your drawing implement the better! Biro's are great. My students responded to a variety of mark making techniques and extended their learning by using creative drawing methods such as continuous line and adding tea/coffee into their prints for further use of layers/tone.

As always we'd love to see visual examples if you give this technique a try with your students and if you know any other creative printing techniques then contact us to make a guest blog appearance.

- Kirsty 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

3W: Andy Warhol

who: Andy Warhol 
what: Cats 
why: having recently become a proud owner to two beautiful cats I wanted to celebrate by adding some artwork to my walls that was cat related and I stumbled upon Andy Warhol's cat series! You can read more about the 25 cats named Sam and one blue pussy, here. I was completely unaware of them before and they make a great link for any students looking at animals for a subject matter as well as being a bit away from the norm for an Andy Warhol reference! Also if you too are into cats and art and happen to be in Amsterdam I fully recommend the Cat Museum, The Cat Cabinet, that's there! 

Friday, 7 August 2015

3W: Maxine Sutton

who: Maxine Sutton
what: print and embroidery
why: stunning combinations of colour, shape and pattern! This July she celebrated 5 years of having her own store down in Margate. This blog posts tells you all about the story of how she started to where the store is now - very inspirational!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

3W: Crystal Wager

what: paper installations, drawing and printmaking 
why: neon colours! Her installations draw you in visually and then when you look deeper the connection between her drawn and print processes and the development into sculpture makes them perfect to show students how to evolve from a drawing in an exciting manner! 

Monday, 3 August 2015

3W: Eve O'Neill/Fforestfelt

what: needle felt sculptures 
why: spotted on country file, the work of Eve aka Fforest felt is truly lovely! She works with locally sourced wool as well as other items foraged from her surroundings in Wales such as feathers and lichen to needle felt beautiful sculptures of natural forms and animals. It's well worth watching the Country File episode if you can - it shows her whole process, including foraging! 

Friday, 26 June 2015

lesson idea: silhouettes

I'm currently doing a mini-portrait project with my year 7's for the end of term and we have been having some fun playing around with the starting point 'silhouette's' so I thought I'd share a few of the activities we have been doing! We started by creating a set of photographs so each student had a photo of themselves from a side view. From the photographs we made our initial silhouette. I got my students to create the silhouette by tracing around the outline of their figure onto tracing paper, cutting it out and then placing and cutting round it onto black paper! We then mounted them onto white cartridge!
Rather than just leaving it there though, I wanted to start to put more detail in! We are working up to creating a design on a ceramic tile so I wanted my students to create more layers of colour and more shapes to work with. We used grey paper to add sections of detail, focusing on things like hair, ears (if visible!) and clothing. I showed the students some examples of framed silhouettes too to inspire them to create a black paper-cut border.

Next we came back to drawing! We took the silhouettes out to our photocopier and I showed them how to create a positive/negative copy. The black areas are transformed to white enabling them to draw back into the silhouette shape. Working from their photograph they put back in the detail of their facial features, hair and clothing!
Then finally back out to the photocopier to create a second positive/negative copy this time reverting the image back to it's originally state! I also showed them how to do a one colour copy to liven it up a bit into some brighter colours! It's worth checking if your copier has this setting there's a whole range of colours to choose from - red, blue, yellow, orange, green etc. etc.

My students really enjoyed it and have made some exciting designs in preparation for our ceramic tiles! As always if you try out this technique we'd love to see what you and your students create!
- Claire 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

digital: Canva and a happy third birthday here at I Heart Teaching Art

To celebrate our third birthday here at I Heart Teaching Art I've been playing around the online Graphic Software Canva. Earlier this week my partner went on a training course at work and afterwards he did not stop raving about it so I had to check it out and so far... I'm pretty impressed! The site allows you to make blog graphics, Facebook covers, posters and more in a matter of minutes! You can customise the fonts, colours and upload your own images into a selection of existing templates and they even have a ton of stock images which you can use if you don't have your own. 

Already I've come up with a few ideas of how it could used in the classroom...
  • Mocking up initial ideas with Graphic Students
  • Making beautiful things for classroom displays (but in much less time!) 
  • For those of you who are tutors and have to get your class to put together poster etc. for around school
  • If you run a blog, twitter, Facebook etc at school! Make some quick, stylish imagery! 

I can't believe it's been three years since we started the blog! I had fun looking back at the photo's we took when we first put the site together and chucked in a fun one of me and Kirsty having a bit of a giggle in B&Q last year whilst collecting paint for the end of year exhibition! We've had so much fun  with the blog and we're always overwhelmed with the positive feedback that we get from our readers! Thank you! 

- Claire