When working with a class of 13 years old students identifying the values they held and the positive qualities they were developing, we used an art journal to record their work . . . some found it really challenging so I developed a simple way for them to critique their work when they didn’t like the results using three quick questions.
1. What, specifically, don’t you like. It was often something quite small such as the way some lettering went off the page. This helped me know what to teach them next or, better still, which other student could teach them something about layout or lettering etc.
2. What details do you like (so you can do it again and share it with someone struggling . . . see #1)? If I did this again I ask the kids to add their names to a skills list so that others could use it as a reference for support.
3. What are some ways you can improve on what you have done? We developed the ‘step away’ assessment to help with this question . . . prop it up, take four big steps back and look at what the work might need.
We also developed, in groups, peers critiques where people noted what really stood out for them, especially if they though it something they could do. If a student asked for support in the form of a question such as “What would you do next if this was your work?” or “Who can anyone show me how to do XYZ better?” a suggestion could be made . . . other wise it was positive feedback only.
As a result students became adept at finding what worked well and didn’t dismiss their efforts so lightly. They also saw that many other struggled with the same things as they did.
So why am I telling you this? Because I attended a workshop with Gill Allen on the weekend and didn’t like every aspect of everything I did. By applying the same three questions, I came up with just a couple of things I didn’t like and a longer list of successes.
The overall composition doesn’t really appeal to me so I learned that I should go with my first impulse when making a choice. What It learned though, is that by sticking with the choice it was more of a challenge. And I learned more about manipulating acrylic paint because that became the focus and not getting the composition right . . . I had no picture in my head to perfect.
I haven’t touched charcoal for years and did very little and I really enjoyed getting my fingers in there . . . it was a great way to warm up.
I like details, little squiggly details . . . even in charcoal.
I enjoyed the limitations place on us by the exercise because it allowed a certain freedom to experiment. Being pushed out of my default way of working also meant I learnt more.
I loved painting BIG with a BIG 2 inch brush and I’d like to have a go at painting BIGGER with a BIGGER brush.
Tiny pops of colour can make a big difference . . . even of a big painting.
And this morning? How do I feel this morning about the images? I can see what needed a little more thought when I sketched out the original image and what could be changed now so using the ‘step away’ assessment more would have been helpful yesterday. And I still like what I liked yesterday, especially those little scarlet dots.
Goals achieved (have fun and learn something), a great day . . . thanks Gill