Heads Up

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Update | Primary art

There has been a radical transformation in the way that students participate in visual arts classes during this academic year. In the fall I embraced “art on a cart” and visited the students in their rooms. Now I use a document camera for demonstrations while students show me their detailed plans through online portfolios and in break-out rooms. While I am definitely not getting in as many steps per day during the CLP, what has not changed is that I continue to be deeply moved and impressed by the level of effort and self-expression that is demonstrated by the Prep students. The significance and importance of the arts to the wellbeing of students is more important than ever due to the challenges and constraints presented by the pandemic.

Following the highlights of what we have been working on over the past month, you will find a few simple and screen-free ways to incorporate visual arts into your family’s shared time together. 

SK students have created lively and vivid compositions inspired by the Brazilian artist Romero Britto, who is sometimes known as the “artist of love and happiness”. Students explored how to combine various shapes, lines and colours to express their version of joy. Look out for some stunning final products in time for Valentine’s Day!

Year 1 and Year 2 students have strengthened their fine motor skills by working hard to use plasticine to create mobiles that represent their knowledge of colour theory. Now they will apply their deeper understanding of colour relationships to their upcoming individual illustration projects. 

Year 3 and Year 4 students have been busy taking risks with new painting techniques. Using common household supplies such as salt, plastic wrap and wax, they created a variety of expressive textures and effects using watercolour paints. We explored strategies for creating accurate colours that represent the diversity of human skin tones. Now, each student is in the process of planning an expressive self-portrait that communicates their unique identity and perspective. One student in Year 3 commented to the class that he wants to ask his family more about their migration journey in order to get more information for his work of art.

Year 5 students experienced a special virtual lesson with local Indigenous artist, Philip Cote on January 21. The students have been exploring the style and meaning behind Mr. Cote’s prolific mural and installation work in connection to their Unit of Inquiry based around Indigenous nations in Canada. Mr. Cote shared teachings and stories from his culture while guiding students through drawing lessons to understand the deeper symbolism and meaning behind his own artwork and more broadly, the Eastern Woodland style originating from Norval Morrisseau (Copper Thunderbird). Students had many questions for Mr. Cote and look forward to continuing to work on their drawings inspired by the Seven Grandfathers teachings. Selected students from the Prep and Upper school will have a chance to work with Philip Cote to plan an Indigenous Acknowledgement mural at UCC in the near future. 

Philip Cote’s work can be seen here: https://tecumsehcollective.wixsite.com/philipcote

Visual Arts-based family activities

Artistic destinations — Look for outdoor art that is near your home and plan a special walk or drive to go and see it in person. Check out this amazing interactive map of Toronto Street Art!

Hike and sketch — Go on a neighbourhood walk or a hike in a local forest and bring along a sketchbook. Stop and create quick drawings of buildings, trees, scenery, nature treasures, animal tracks or animals along the way. At home, post the drawings in a common place as a visual reminder of the walks you have gone on as a family. 

Pass-it-on — Get out a timer and a piece of paper and markers. One player starts the drawing. Every 10 seconds or so, pass it on to the next player. The point is to add-on rather than draw-over what someone else has done. 

Dress up and draw — Each participant goes and gets dressed up in a fun or unusual outfit or costume. Take turns drawing each other.

Draw and tell — Take turns telling stories. While one person is telling a story, the other person or people draw pictures to represent important scenes in that story. 

Shadow drawing — Place a toy, block tower or any other object somewhere where it casts a shadow from the sun. Place a paper over the shadow and trace the shape. If possible, leave the object and paper there all day and come back at various points to retrace the new shadow location. At the end of the day, you will see evidence of the shadow’s path!

Please feel free to reach out anytime. Wishing you health and creativity!

Monika Mai Kastelic (she/her)
Prep School Arts Co-Coordinator