A belated Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you are all well and keeping busy despite one thing and another.
With a new lockdown in place, I’ve switched to teaching my pupils from home again as part of my job at Grantown Grammar School. One aspect of teaching a practical subject like art online is that you don’t know what materials the children have. During the first lockdown last year, a lot of the lessons used graphite pencils. To allow them to add colour, I set a lesson challenging them to paint with coffee. We produced pictures of sheep skulls using this medium and this allowed the pupils to practice their skills using a household substance.
This time around, we’re trying something different.
Drinking a cuppa is an important part of the creative process. It’s useful to take a moment to relax and sit back and look at your artwork and plan where it should go next. I wanted to make that an integral part of the work.
Each time I make a cup of tea, I’ve splatted the bag and taken a photograph. This is the now the basis for a drawing and I’ve asked pupils to turn their teabag or other household object into a picture. I’ve taken inspiration from Christoph Niemann, whose work you can see on his Instagram account, @abstractsunday , where he turns all sorts of ordinary things into brilliant drawings.
For this task, I’ve also been drawing on my tablet, using Autodesk Sketchbook to create my artwork. This is a programme that the pupils have on their Chromebooks.
I’ve been doing a drawing every day and I’ve enjoyed the contrast between the photographs of the splats and the nice crisp drawings. It’s hard to use line economically and I’ve been really tempted to add lots of wee details. As with any new technique, I’m still finding my way.
The collection includes lots of wild animals and, unsurprisingly, fish. Teabags and splatters have proven to be versatile. Sometimes I’ve added or combined the splatters to emphasise the shape of the animal, sometimes I’ve kept the teabag in the middle of the splat and drawn on it. And in one, I’ve seen the animal in the way the teabag floats in the mug.
If you want to try it out for yourself, then pop over to my Instagram account, where you can see the full collection and watch a couple of quick videos on how to do it yourself, including one where I sound a lot like a chipmunk.