Recently, my friend Holly Berry and I have been doing projects with an illustration class at the Rhode island School of Design taught by our former teacher, Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges. Holly is a successful illustrator and printmaker who has a wonderful style (see her website here). She brought in a load of supplies for the students to mess around with. The whole point of our visits was to help bring back a sense of play to the student’s art making experience. I’ll show what I did with the class later in this post.
Holly introduced a way of decorating paper with a paste and paint mixture. The tables were set up with work stations like a Kindergarten class.
Holly provided all kinds of tools for making patterns, including rubber combs and textured rollers.
This is a fun way to loosen up and focus on color and textures without thinking too much about the finished product. The class will later use their decorated paper in a collage assignment.
This students really seemed to love the experience of getting messy with such basic materials.
On another day, I brought in baskets of materials for the class to construct a character. There were pipe cleaners, wooden beads, wool fleece, wool felt scraps, embroidery floss and acorn caps to work with.
I gave a short demonstration on forming a basic armature for a figure, like in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. I told them that I didn’t want them to follow instructions on making a doll just like mine, but to play around and come up with their own designs.
One student bent a pipe cleaner into an animal shape and started wrapping it with wool fleece.
She then devised a way to attach an acorn cap carrier to its back.
Holly and Judy Sue’s hair looked like the fleece we were working with.
After about an hour of quiet concentration, the class made some really creative and fun characters, including this bunny rabbit. For the students, I think these hands-on projects were a welcome diversion from critiques and a reminder of why they make art.