Friday, August 15, 2014

A Summer of Teaching Art Journaling classes to teens

I had a wonderful time teaching art journaling this summer at the Sachem Library in Holbrook.   Over 8 weeks I learned a lot about how I wanted to teach art classes.   I also learned that although I had spent many weeks getting supplies ready, I had to be more flexible.  School was out!  It's summer after all and it had to be fun.  One student did Anime drawing in a nature journaling class and another student saw nothing wrong with using watercolors as if they were oils, in thick goopy layers.

The teen librarian and I had worked together to meet their requests, affirmation journals followed by nature and steampunk.  Three two hour weekly classes. For the first session,  I also wanted to show them the different types of themed journals they could make and some that I've made.   I used Violette Clark's Teen Dream Journal as I guide, as well as the art work of Teesha Moore.  I couldn't leave out travel, junk, composition and steampunk journals.

I brought I Bristol board and card stock to make a ring binder journal, and for the 3 week classes each student had a folder to save their work.  I supplied all materials for 20 students, sketch paper and card stock, pencils, and markers.  I also brought in stamps, paper punches and printed card stock pads.  To encourage writing affirmations, I brought in lists of journaling prompts and inspirational quotes to get them engaged.  

One thing didn't mix, paper punches and Elmer's glue.  One group went overboard with the punches and began gluing tiny papers on the journal pages and all over themselves and the tables.
The next two classes went fairly smoothly.  The kids preferred to just cut and paste the quotes on their pages.  I had accumulated a good assortment of printed and colorful paper tape that was popular.
I did bring in several different stamps, but permanent ink pads were not a good idea.  During the class I made several 3D butterflies and seriously encouraged them to make some of their own art.
The third week I brought in Prang watercolor sets,  water brushes and watercolor paper.  I made a big mistake not giving a separate watercolor class first.  Also,  some students did not take all 3 weeks, and just showed up for the last class.

For the 3 weeks of nature journaling we had access to the library's beautifully landscaped garden.  Each week I started the classes with a brief drawing lesson before bringing our sketch paper and clipboards outside.  I included several of Claire Walker Leslie's books as references, as well as Cathy Johnson and Irene Brady.    We also took several nature guides out to the  garden and identified some of their plants and trees.   Hopefully, they will continue to use their garden.

The second week I brought in colored pencils and the watercolors for the third.  We were so lucky to have beautiful weather for all three weeks.  After being out in the garden sketching there wasn't enough time to teach watercolor.  While we were out there I tried to encourage them to write notes about color and light on their pages, stressing observation.  

One of the few flowers in bloom was the Black Eyed Susan,  I did two watercolors for them, one with my watercolors and another with the Prangs.   I gave the one with the Prangs to one of the kids who wanted to learn watercolor.  Again, I was sorry I hadn't offered a beginner watercolor class first.  I gave them a very brief lesson on washes and color mixing.

For both the affirmation and nature journaling, all 20 spots were taken.  However, the average class size was about 10.

The last two Steampunk classes were on the same day, afternoon and evening.
I had been busy making my own steampunk journals and collecting books about steampunk.  As much as I wanted to bring in the stamps I had made, I knew the ink would be a problem.  

To save time I gave each student two 9x12 bristol board covers, 3 sheets of white card stock, one black, pencil, pen, black and white markers.   I punched out 3 holes for each and gave them the rings.  The first class was 15 girls.  They also used preprinted victorian paper pads, regular markers and washi tape. Most of my supplies I found at Michaels.   I gave them printed images of steampunk robots, bugs, people and the ones I had made.

With an hour in between classes,  I readied for the last group, which turned out to be only 5 boys.   They worked quietly drawing robots and writing in their journals.  As with the first class I talked a lot about the  books of Jules Verne, HG Wells, Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe, hoping to pique their interest.  For most of them, "Torchwood", "Hugo"  and "Dr. Who" were their modern steampunk images.

After 8 weeks my summer of teaching was over, I learned so much from these classes.   Each class gave me ideas for new ways of doing things, new classes to teach, new media to use!