King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in clay

I’ve posted about the Year five (aged 9-11) work I have been leading at Windmill Primary School in Oxford. Here is our end of term final clay project and some information and ideas to assist anyone else planning art for the topic of Tudors.

I spent the term teaching 60 children how to draw horses using different techniques and approaches. As many of the children were pretty unconfident with their skills I encouraged them to feel free and strangely not in control by getting them to do right brain exercises such as drawing an image without looking at their own drawing. Drawing an image upside down, drawing ‘slinky’ and ‘scribble’ drawings. And most importantly, I encouraged them not to cross out a drawing they were not happy with but to observe and notate what needed adjusting in that drawing and then to try again next to it.

Being in a city, it was impossible to arrange a trip out to observe horses so instead we used our mental visualization skills at the beginning of most lessons to imagine a horse and run our hand over it’s muscles, feel it’s hot breath on our hand, and stroke its rough long mane. It was incredible to see 30 children sitting with eyes closed and hands outstretched as they imagined stroking or feeding their horse. The hour and a half sessions began with several 5 and 10 minute warm up/freeing exercises. Then the rest of the time was broken up into approximately three 20 minute sessions which progressively built up skills previously learnt.

I used the interactive white board to show different images of horses which the children all worked on at the same time. We looked at the proportions of the horse and discovered that the size of the head was the best measure to understand the length/width of the body and legs.

Here are some or the drawings they did starting with the earliest drawings. You can definitely see how the maturity of the drawings increase over time.

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IMG_0790 IMG_0791 IMG_0792 IMG_0793 IMG_0798 IMG_0799 IMG_0800 IMG_0801 As the children felt more comfortable using their drawing skills, and as confidence levels grew over the 10 weeks their individual styles of sketching and drawing began to emerge. This was truly heart warming!

We had a life drawing model sit on a bench in the classroom for us one session with a sword in hand so that the children could actually get some life drawing in. This helped  to to draw the rider on the horse. One other session was spent being art critics, we looked at other artists who painted the battle of Boswell and discussed aspects of art such as composition, colour, subject, title of the piece, historical art etc. I also told them some of the fascinating history involving lies, corruption, murder, deceit and kidnaps that surrounds King Richard III, Henry Tudor and the Stanley brothers.

We also looked at negative space, and discussed how our knowledge of angles (Maths) could help us draw difficult areas such as legs, head and neck. We created a negative space picture in black and white which looked very effective when put all together.

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This whole project culminated in a clay relief of King Richard, lance in hand and mounted upon his steed, charging his enemy (Henry Tudor & army) at the Battle of Bosworth.

Just before we embarked upon the clay we bridged the gap between 2D and semi 3D work by creating paper relief drawings. You can read about these here.

I then created a powerpoint tutorial which showed the step by step process of creating the relief. I also created my own relief and photographed my self at each step so that I could show this to the children in the powerpoint. Here are some of the images from that powerpoint.IMG_0850 IMG_0851 IMG_0854 IMG_0855 IMG_0857 IMG_0860 IMG_0862 IMG_0869

The children spent two -three sessions working on the final clay piece with input and advice and demonstrations from myself all the way. Here are some of their pieces in progress.

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This project was a fantastic way of getting regular drawing sessions into the school week. It was so clear that regular practice is the best way to improve confidence, skills, good attitude and right brain approach. There were some children who found it difficult to keep their critical left brain from interfering with the creative process and once I gave them a few activities and techniques to engage their right brain more than their left they began to use these techniques of their own accord. Here is someone enjoying that!



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