7 August 2015

How to host an Arternoon

Once a week, we gather with friends and play with art. One of the lovelier additions to our weeks recently, we get together with families from our homeschool co-op and set about making space for creativity and colour. We call it Arternoon.

At the moment Artenoon is one parent (mostly me), facilitating a group of about 6-10 children and joining in when I can. I'm hoping some of the adults will relax and feel inspired to join in and get creative too, because it's so much fun. Our group are a bunch of creative kids, mostly unschooled, and , interestingly, mostly girls right now. We'd love to have some of the boys join in, but for now they seem happier to run and wrestle, and that's totally ok. Our Arternoons began when a couple of parents in our group asked if anyone knew any good, inexpensive, art classes around. Sometimes when you look at the people around you, you discover you already have the skills and experience between you to facilitate all manner of things. You just need to ask and think laterally and make it happen.

We're loving the space to create alongside each other. As a designer, I loved the inspiration and support that came from working in a studio with others. The owlets are loving creating alongside their friends and together we've created a space where everyone's work is valued and appreciated and artists feel supported.

Each session happens just after lunch and runs for a maximum of 2 hours, by which time we're all bursting to run and climb, or down another cup of tea. It seems to be exactly the right sort of time for this sort of work, but I'd imagine an after school or weekend group could work well too. A theme is chosen, with some creative prompts, a new medium to explore or a creative hero to get to know, and off we go!

So far we've run sessions about: Line and contour drawing, Matisse and Collage, Altered Books, and Goethe and finding your own colour palette. Next week, we'll be exploring Kandinsky and circles, and the list of ideas should last us for years! Thankfully, Pinterest is there with loads of inspiration should the well ever run dry.

If you'd like to have a go at starting an Arternoon of your own, here's what you need to know:

  • Choose a space. Your dining table might work. Invite some friends over for some creative fun! If you're a bit concerned about mess, or you have a larger group than will fit in your home, consider hiring a space. 
  • Gather some basic materials. We have a stack of A3 cartridge paper, which is really versatile. We also have a backup supply of paints and drawing materials as well as glue sticks, scissors, coloured paper and old magazines if people need them. 
  • Ask everyone to bring along their favourite materials or art tools. Or suggest simple materials they might need for each week as you progress. Things like acrylic or watercolour paints, oil pastels, favourite pencils and paint brushes are a good start. It's always so much more pleasurable to create art using good quality tools and encouraging children to use them with care and respecting their own tools, as well as each others, is a great way to set them up for good creative practice. 
  • Make a big list of ideas and choose a theme each week. You might take inspiration from a technique or particular medium, or you might choose a creative hero. Maybe an artist or philosopher, or a great story teller. Think about what you can learn from their art and go with it! 
  • Find someone to help you facilitate. Even if it's only every now and then. Volunteer work can be pretty exhausting, so having some help or support and an extra person to bounce ideas off really helps. If your group is really big, you might like to ask a couple of parents to volunteer as helpers. If your group doesn't require much facilitation (maybe you're working with older kids or adults), you might like to decide on a democratic way to present ideas and take turns researching creative prompts. 
  • Give everyone the space to interpret the activity in their own way. There's no right or wrong way to approach making art. Great things can come from exploring tangents!
  • Encourage and give feedback, rather than lashings of praise. Tell each artist what you like about their work. Point out the great bits - maybe you like their interpretation or the colours they've chosen? Give them some ideas if they're having a hard time with something. Encourage them to tell the story behind their work and to support each other. 
  • Join in. Grab some paper and paint and sit down with everyone and play! Have fun! Make mistakes! You might find some creative inspiration frees you up for making more art through the rest of your week. Create some art together and have an ace time! 

If you decide to host an Artenoon of your own, we'd love to hear about it! Let us know how it goes!

~ Lauren. xx

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