At first I hesitated when it came to running art workshops with young people. For some reason there was some sort of fear. Learning to lead a group and the archetype and role of playing the teacher surfaced.
Which I am happy about, because these are roles that I would like to develop and feel they can only be of benefit to me and my development.
The creative arts are a subject that have always been there bubbling in my soul of interest. I love being absorbed by creative immersive experiences like art and music festivals where the décor creates this alternative temporary universe for both children and adults alike.
They become an environment where we get to play in, and it’s that playful energy that I want to remind people of.
To find this element of play we can use the creative arts!
The possibilities are literally endless, there are so many mediums to explore and artists to discover, it all becomes one big playground!
When I envisioned running art classes for young people something that is really important to me is setting the space. Setting intentions and entering a relaxed state so that we can then move forward into the creative exploration we’re about to embark on. In my own creative practice, I like to do a simple breathing relaxation before I start making and playing so that I don’t carry the rest of my day into the activity and I can really focus and let go with my art making. We do so much in our days and we are stimulated by so many things including technology that I believe it’s important to be able to stop, pause, come back into ourselves through breathing and then move off into the next activity that we do. This really helps with clarity and focus on the activity that we are doing.
Now doing this for yourself is one thing, but leading a group of young people to do this was a fear of mine. Self-judgemental thoughts came up of feeling silly. So I have to be honest, out of the 4 sessions I only managed to do this once. However, in that one time when I led the group the young people really engaged with it, and when speaking to them afterwards about how it made them feel they explained that they felt relaxed and tired. I noticed that they all seemed a lot calmer after doing this activity and it is something I am going to work on getting more confident in leading for future workshops and classes.
Through-out the 4 week Doodle Days- Pattern Play course it was about exploring mark making and the use of simple patterns repeated. I wanted the young people to know that they don’t have to create incredibly detailed masterpiece paintings of faces or landscapes to be creative or that they have talent. I wanted them to do learn that using by using simple, repetitive patterns you can create complex looking pieces that are just as beautiful.
I was actually quite shocked at how quickly they picked it up, I had created what I called inspo sheets of patterns that I play with so give them ideas to create their own. The majority copied the ones that I had given and a few started to build confidence in having a go at creating their own patterns.
After the demonstration the young people got straight into it. It was incredible to see how quickly they all got absorbed into the process of creating. In the first couple of sessions they went quite because they were really concentrating, it was a new concept and skill they were learning after all. In the 3rd and 4th session however I noticed that they were much more relaxed in their concentration, it wasn’t as laser beam focused which allowed for reflective conversations to take place.
I used this opportunity to ask the young people how they felt about art and the impact that it has on them. Here is what they had to say:
How does it make you feel when you’re making art?
“It makes me feel out of body and zoned out”
“It makes me feel relaxed”
“It makes me feel stressed sometimes when I can’t do it properly”
“I find making art makes me feel calm and its fun!”
Why do you think being creative through making art is important?
“At school someone might be not so good at maths or science but actually making art might be the talent that a person has, and is really good at”
“It makes you use your imagination.”
What have you learned in these sessions?
“I have learned how to make all these different kinds of patterns.”
“I have learnt to make leaf type shapes.”
Why do you think art is important in schools?
“It is good for down time between more stressful lessons.”
“It makes you feel less stressed.”
What did you find challenging in these sessions?
“Drawing straight lines.”
“Finishing a piece by the end of the session.”
Would you prefer to make art or to be on your tablet/phone/computer?
5 out of the 6 young people voted they would prefer to be making art.
1 of the young people explained they would like to make art using a tablet or computer.
What type of arts and crafts do you like doing?
“I’d like to learn to spray paint.”
Speaking to the young people about how they felt about art and creative subjects in schools was really enlightening. At the time of the sessions the young people were revising for their SATS and explained that they wished there was more time for them to play or do creative subjects. In the Calder Valley especially Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden there seems to be a lack of creative classes that are affordable for young people. It makes me wonder if young people had access to more creative classes and spaces to be able to express themselves would there be less problems with mental health, drug and alcohol misuse in this area? Would it open up spaces where we would have dialogue with young people about mental health, drug and alcohol misuse to help create an awareness about it?
This is my food for thought.
The yummiest thing I got from the art classes was in the final session. Where after 4 sessions making art together, I saw a blossoming in the young people attending. They had spent 4 sessions together and now were having beautiful conversations sharing their interests. I saw a huge improvement on letting go in terms of their creative process in a few of the young people, meaning that they weren’t over thinking what they had to do and got on with it. This allowed them to get more of their pieces finished.
Overall I absolutely LOVED running these sessions. It’s the first set of art classes I have taught and I took so much from them. Ways in which to improve and develop my skills in becoming a teacher and creative guide for young people. To spread creative play and encourage it in young people. To give them a space to be able to express themselves through art and creative outlets.
That’s my mission.