Friday, 22 May 2015

Japanese Garden

Onto our next challenge! One of the mountains used as a table name in class is Mount Fuji and it's accompanied by a lovely image of Japanese fields with the mountain in the background. Japan had sparked some interest so I thought building on that would be an interesting experience for the class.

I had previously come across this wonderful painting below which is one of the pieces taught at The Paint Bar:
This seemed like a wonderful idea but I had no idea how to go about it with a class of 30 children. I played around at home over the weekend and eventually came up with using chalk as this would eliminate the problem of waiting for paint to dry. Although the chalk came out well, it really did get everywhere and the chalk supply at school is rather limited. The compromise was to use chalk for the mountain effect and oil pastels for all of the other details. I showed the class pictures of Japan and focused on the symbolism of blossom, bridges and pagodas. It captured their imagination instantly and they were very eager to try out their own Japanese garden.

Equipment Needed
- Red paper
- White card
- White chalk
- Oil pastels

1. We watched parts of this video ( which talks through the chalk method for the mountains. You take your white card and draw the mountain shapes from one side to the other. You then tear along the line as close as possible. You end up with two pieces of card (dispose of the bottom half and keep the top)

2. Paperclip the top half of the card onto your red paper. Draw another line along your mountain line and colour this section in with a thick layer of chalk.

3. Use your finger to smudge the chalk down onto the red paper. Make sure you work your way across the line but keep smudging it DOWN. Once you've gone all the way along just take off the white card and you're left with your chalky mountains.

4. To produce your water/grass parts, first draw a blew wavy line and blend together different shades of blue and purple.

5. Then add your layer of green on top. Use white to frame the edges of the landscape and create hills if you want.

6. Add blossom trees with small strokes. Start with the deeper purple and work your way up to light pink/white.

7. Draw your pagoda with black pencil to ensure your shape is clean. It can be quite fiddly drawing with pastels!

8. Colour in your pagoda.

9. Add a bridge and any extra final finishing touches. You are the left with a beautiful Japanese garden being overlooked by mountains.

Of course, this is a very simplified version of the original painting I came across and I would love to attempt that at some point, but I certainly feel that this was the best approach for such large classes of 9-year olds! Check out some of our results below:

Although this was quite prescriptive (and that's not how I usually like to do it!) I was very happy to see some children adding their own touches like different shapes for their pagodas, variations on the trees and bits of wildlife.


In other arty news, I went to a Pop-up Painting event the other night in Richmond with a friend. Neither of us are exactly artistic prodigies but we had a brilliant time. The people were really friendly and the evening was lovely. There were about 20 adults sitting in a room above a pub with a class led by a professional artist. The piece of art we were using as our stimulus was Girl with a Balloon by Banksy. Mine wasn't coming out how I liked and started to look like a stormy sky, yellow cliffs, red-ish sand and a blue ocean. Therefore, I changed my tactic and put the girl with her lost balloon standing on a balcony overlooking the scene. I highly recommend the night for an evening that's a bit different.


1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely going to "borrow" this. Great adaptation from your painting!