Exploring through drawing…

Busylizzie was invited to present a day of art skills training at Combe St.Nicholas Primary School immediately after autumn half-term, to help inspire teachers towards their Christmas art activities.

The head teacher of this church school had suggested “Angels” and wishing to avoid the ‘paper doily everyone identical’ collage, I began to think around the subject – wings, birds, feathers sprung to mind and many ideas quickly followed. A visit to the Somerset Museum Service’s ‘newish’ headquarters at Norton Fitzwarren proved immensely satisfying and highly amusing to the assistant who showed me around the many shelves of taxidermy birds!

My plan was taking shape and all that was needed was the addition of a non-caged bird – my friend’s gannet would be ideal!

The day began with close observation of feathers…both in pencil and pastel…img_7893

…and then continued through suggestions for colour-mixing activities, looking at the structure of a variety of birds’ wings and finally by creating a printing block using press-print medium, and a large wing by combining the prints…


By the end of the day, not only had we covered ideas for inspiring children to explore the structure of wings and so be able to create their Christmas artwork from an observational starting point, but the staff, both teaching and teaching assistants, felt better able to work alongside the children and guide these explorations and discoveries.

Plans were left for the staff to follow and expand with their own ideas and those of the children, as well as a collection of stuffed birds, butterflies and the gannet which they could use of the rest of the term…

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