At Southwood, we teach a range of key skills across the following main areas: drawing, painting and colour, collage, printmaking, 3D art/sculpture and artists and art movements. The progression of skills across these areas, as well as a broadening of the children’s knowledge and understanding of art and design and its impact on everyday life and the world around them, will help them to think creatively in other areas of the curriculum and be curious about their world and how it has been designed and built.
As well as regular art lessons, each child will have opportunities throughout their time at Southwood to meet with professional artists and makers, visit art galleries and exhibitions, take part in art and design workshops and exhibit their own art and design work, giving them a sense of belonging in the community and wider society.
When learning how to draw, children are taught to see shape, tone (light and shade), line and proportion. Each of these areas is visited throughout their time at Southwood, so that each child will see a progression in their work. For example, in year two children are taught to draw basic 2D and 3D shapes. They are then shown objects and landmarks and encouraged to find those basic shapes within the overall shape of the structures. This allows them to problem solve a complicated drawing task by breaking it down into smaller elements. In Year 3, children look at photographs of different facial features (eyes, nose mouth) and identify and draw the shapes. These skills are carried into Year 5, where children draw and complete a self-portrait using a close-up photograph. These are coloured expressively to allow freedom from the restraints of naturalistic painting. By Year 6, children are able to draw and paint a portrait of a partner from real life.
Painting and colour
Recognising colours and understanding how they interact helps children to develop a good visual language, enabling them to use colour and paint to catch the eye or create a mood or feeling in a painting. Children in year 1 and 2 learn about primary colours, and in year 2 are able to use these to mix the secondary colours. In year 3, they use warm or cool colours to create abstract paintings, while by year 4 they learn that complimentary colours can be used to make lighter or darker tones and apply this in their paintings. By year 5 children have an understanding of how colour can be used expressively, and create their own expressionist paintings.
Collage is the art practice of gluing or sticking different materials to a surface to create a new artefact or artwork. This can include magazine cuttings, photographs, coloured paper, maps, old postcards and other materials. Children begin to develop their fine motor skills in the early years and Key Stage 1, where they use scissors to cut, fold and stick different types of paper and other light materials such as fabric or feathers. To support their work on minibeasts and habitats, Year 2 children make close up pencil studies of insects and other bugs, then use different patterned paper and magazines to create a collage version. Year 3 study the “paper cut outs” of Matisse and try to create nature-inspired shapes for their work, while Year 5 are introduced to the work of the Dada movement and later political and satirical photomontage artists such as Peter Kennard. They have to use more refined cutting and sticking skills to cut and assemble photographs of people, animals and landscapes to create amusing, satirical and surrealist scenes.
Printmaking covers a wide range of commercial and artistic activities, from wallpaper design, t-shirt printing, fine art woodblock and textile design to the famous screen prints of Andy Warhol. In Key Stage 1 children experiment with a variety of different objects and textured materials that can be used for printing onto paper. Year 3 use foamboard in the shape of fish or other animals to make pressed printing blocks. In Year 4, children are introduced to the work of the influential local artist and designer William Morris, and create wallpaper designs based on their drawings of plants and inspired by his work. Year 5 and 6 are introduced to new techniques such as mono printing, and children who take part in the art club are introduced to stencilling and screen printing.
3D Art and Sculpture
Throughout the school, children are given opportunities to design and build using a variety of materials such as clay, modroc, papier maché, cardboard, wire and recycled objects. Often these are linked to history topics, where children will study artefacts from that period then create their own in that style (Roman pots or Greek masks from clay, for example). They gain an understanding that the world around them is designed and built in great detail by people doing everyday jobs, and during work week children are given the opportunity to see some of these people at work.
Artists and Art Movements
As well as studying some of the major artists and art movements of the past, the children are given opportunities to visit contemporary exhibitions and work with artists in school and on educational visits. Having an understanding of art history helps children to better understand the world at that time, and demonstrates how artists can interpret or respond to historical events. For example, children in Year 4 learn about how Pop Art was a reflection of a fast-changing and exciting new world, and that the artists could both celebrate and criticise their society, often simultaneously. Children are encouraged to look at their own world with a more critical eye, but also with a sense of humour. Year 3 children took part in a major project with the Turner Prize-winning artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. We have built strong links with Tate and Bow Arts, an artists’ collective who run regular projects with Southwood and our partner schools. Most recently children from Years 2 and 3 worked with artist Katherine Leedale to design the panels in the KS2 playground, which celebrate the history of the school and the local area.
By the end of each year children will have a greater understanding and knowledge of art, artists and art movements, and be able to link these with what they have learned before. They will be able to recognise the skills that they have built and developed and how they have strengthened those skills they already have. All these experiences add to the broad and inclusive curriculum at Southwood, and help children to understand, and be involved with, the crucial role artists play in modern society. Children become more creative not only in their art lessons, but are able to apply this creativity to other areas of the curriculum and in their everyday lives, and understand the crucial role that their creative minds will play in their lives.