Thoughts cont.

The Social Potentials Of Making the Creative Process Visible

Corey and Jake exploring the adventures of 'Mason' - Thinking Through Drawing

Corey and Jake exploring the adventures of ‘Mason’ – Thinking Through Drawing

Year Three

And so it begins… main observation – whilst as individuals the children worked well teasing out sequential possibilities of narrative, in groups the greatest leaps were taken due to the juxtaposition of thoughts. These workshops are an overview, they do not yet contain ‘problems’ , ‘difficult’ or ‘specific’ contexts. they are simply to establish a structure and method which can be applied. It is the intension that the facility for exploring possibilities through ‘drama-drawing’ would work as well within a museum or gallery to explore collections as it would examining issues of bullying / the building of confidence and self esteem or as part of the curriculum for example – historic events, geography etc. But for now we play…

The first workshops were a great success in engrossing all pupils in the experience of exploring narrative through drawing. Those who first appeared uncertain and lacking confidence about drawing soon overcame it when introduced to the technology and the sheer difference in experience it bought to drawing onto paper alone and also, to the role of drawing as a means to an end – a thinking tool – at least in the first instance. How to build on this:

Whilst the children were happy enough to fill time with exploration – a real success in those terms – i need to imbed a greater purpose 1) to more palpably evidence a diversity of creative thinking at work and 2) to better establish an approach that can be applied to different contexts such as being used more explicitly to negotiate difficult problems (as was the original intension regarding the fire) or as an explorative tool to examine different subject matter such as museum collection.

  • the danger was always that the children would draw in an additive manner and simply gradually construct an image rather than use the drawing to explore possibilities. This of course did take place but where a greater sequential development took hold were:
  1. When the image drawn was in someway transformed
    1. becoming larger/smaller through the visualizer
    2. moved within the picture frame through projection
    3. or removed by covering the image with blank paper ready for a new scene within a scene (meaning that the original context of forest/see room remains)
    4. altering surrounding images as above
  1. instances where conversation took place and the obvious progress of thought this instigates.

So, greater story telling potential lies in utilising these methods more effectively:

  1. We can encourage greater movement within a scene:

The method of taking a photo and saying that this is for a page in the book is a good method for reflection then moving on…

using paper to then hide aspects of a scene and allow change to take place within a scene

Tracing paper can enable quick animation without getting seduced by the projector!

Zooming into an aspect of the scene to force a change in perspective – a leaf, the top of a tree. We can instigate or engineer a number of these within a session.

  1. The conversations need to remain a constant and audible. Even in the introduction to each scene we must draw as we listen and speak, not speak then go off and draw:
  2. From initial group work introducing methods overall we can quickly divide into pairs but choose clear contexts/activities of investigation already initiated by the children as a group
  3. Swap the pairs over to force difference in negotiating ideas.

The structure for the first scene will look as follows:

Walk into the room and remain standing

What do you hear?

Crunching beneath feet – draw what might be crunched, draw the feet, the footprints – immediately into role as both investigator and constructor of story through drawing

Wind blowing through leaves – draw the tress, the branches, the leaves.

Etc – a photo is taken of the scene as the ‘character’ sees it

Possibilities depending on what the children suggest:


Trace an aspect of the scene quickly onto acetate and Zoom into it on the wall with the visualiser enlarging – place a piece of paper over the original image – draw projected image into the space

Take a photo of the new scene before it is filled

and ask a pair to keep exploring the story as if they have become:

miniature/the world/animal has become large

or indeed if small if the projector can place am image into the palm of a hand.

Takes place around a child’s head – using shadow or the child in situ themselves with the other child drawing animals, events surrounding them

Ask them to suggest if we need to do this again depending on where the ‘character’ goes…

Take a photo with each new change

Schematic exploration

Keep another pair on the floor particularly if its children already exploring crunching underfoot. Ask them to explore the journey the ‘character takes’ and things that happen on his way like drawing a map using footsteps – who does he meet, what does he do? – this group can also use more paper to change the focus of the scene for example, if we are walking along drawing around feet, suggest ‘what if he goes inside a tree, underneath a bridge, into the water, up a hill, into the sky – then we can use new paper to zoom into those places like a magic magnifying glass.

Allow the images from both pairs to become full enough to take a picture for the pages

Swap the children around – but aske them to remember what was happening in their respective stories –

perhaps ask them to get the ‘character’ from one scene and into the other for

example, how can we show the ‘character’ getting off the leaf, moving off the wall

and into the floor …

the scenes need to be extended rather than simply added to

the children continue..

we should have at least – four pages from the forest session

the emphasis then becomes far more about the children moving through the story… year 5 tomorrow…




So how can you get a room full of children to demonstrate creative thinking so that the process can be made visible and we learn from them?

Affecting the environment in which creativity takes place and prompting an embodied experience

Affecting the environment in which creativity takes place and prompting an embodied experience

The workshops so far, have begun to pull upon notions of an embodied experience, generating an environment in which the children become a part of the drawing, the drawing as an extension of themselves. The benefits of this are 1) to remove or liberate the children from any preconceptions as to what ‘drawing’ is and more specifically, to prompt a state of play so that they might more willingly think creatively, exploritively and evidence that thinking through drawing.

The collaboration between the approaches of drama and drawing has caused me to place the activity of mark making as part of a continuum, an evolving narrative. The drawings facilitate the activity, not only creating the scene but providing the only way in which the story can move forward.

Stage One: Setting the convention:

The children need to learn quickly how to draw in a simple way and how those drawings can be used to move a story onward.

Begin in a story telling circle

Introduce a prop – a shoe ask open questions as to who the shoe may belong to, why is it there how did it get there etc – possibilities begin:

1)    Drawing needs to be used from the outset as an inextricable means to explore and tell a story. Natasha: draws a winding road onto acetate and puts it under the visualizer – positioned in such a way that it winds through the centre of the group – we are immediately sat within the scene of the story.

2)    We trace the projected image onto the newsprint on which we sit so that the image (enlarged and positioned) becomes permanent. The objective is to create an environment generated through the children’s imagery, a mapping out into the space that surrounds us – newsprint will cover all surfaces.

3)    The children take turns to draw something to help us explore where the shoe came from, perhaps modelled by Ali and me. But first, we have to create the character of the child who lost the shoe in the first place, give them a name. Each child takes turns in becoming that character and their drawings will help us explore their experience leading up to loosing the shoe. Each drawing leads to the next. This can be encouraged in three key ways:

  • each image is treated as the ‘road’ image – placed under the visualizer and projected into our space and traced so we remain within, a part of the story
  • the image is projected into the space in a particular way that dramatizes its characteristics, brings the image alive such as a dog projected onto the wall moving a little, a ball moving through space, an object onto an open palm etc
  • we act out, interact with the image in order to explore the arising themes – do not walk on the road as its dangerous! pat the dog, pretend to throw the ball etc. Drama is constantly used as a means to explore themes

Stage Two: encouraging greater autonomy in creative thinking

The group can be split in two, one group with Ali one with me. There are three visualizers and the techniques for developing the imagery in this stage will remain the same as before.

4)     After each child has taken part we look at the resultant image on the floor and wall around us and we ask the question: If the other children in your group were to come in now, would they understand our story by looking at this drawing? What do we need to change to help them? This will alter the children’s relationship with the drawing, cause objectivity and reflection. The drawing is then explored in and of itself by elaborating on themes; relationships consequence and personifying characters etc

  • using imagery from the acetates overlaying, duplicating altering scale and obscuring using plain paper
  • adding more imagery – a wider context or detail.
  • We can also bring the children’s activities/drama enactments, into the drawing by using lighting to cast their shadows into the space for example, they can be drawn as shadow patting the dog, throwing the ball etc…
Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 15.06.30

Indicative image of story telling circle

5)   A Photograph, or series of photographs will be taken of the results of this stage. These images will be the first in a compilation of a story board for the children to review at the end. It will also be printed out for their class to see.

—————————————————————————–Children leave the room for a break, possibly chalk drawing outside or just running off evergy!——————————

Stage Three: conventions in place, lets go for it!

Whilst the children are out of the room its time for a scene change! The process begins again with a new prop but this time with a greater theatrical context:

6)         We begin in a story telling circle. The prop (yet to be determined, we’ll have a tool box of possibilities)

7)         The conventions will follow on from the previous stages (1&2) using acetate to project imagery, tracing and drawing directly onto the paper enveloping the room.

8)         With the additional help of projected silhouetted scenes, lighting and sound, the context in which the children are drawing will change three times within an hour period (approx.) to move the story along, suggesting:

  • an early morning (dimmed lighting, forest silhouetted into the room, the sound of bird song and forect animals).
  • mid day (bright light, childrens playground silhouetted into the room, the sound of children playing).
  • night-time (quite dark! Not sure yet, maybe a space scene..) accompanied by the sound of space!).

9)       we can retain the character from the previous story if allowing

10)       we will be given warning of an imminent scene change and use this as an opportunity to ask again: If the other children in your group were to come in now, would they understand our story by looking at this drawing? What do we need to change to help them? At the end of each scene we will photograph the results to continue in the compilation of a story board.

Although at this stage in danger of appearing more form than content the basic guiding premise through facilitation needs to be the notion of change most overtly facilitated through the initial use of the shoe, leading to narrative that explores journeys, movement and change in someway. Attention needs to be paid to the use of drawing as helping the central character to problem solve, negotiate problems, find solutions for example, if the character is afraid of a dog he could draw a ball to divert its attention, when in a forest and needing to escape or explore he could sprout wings or ride on the back of a deer etc.

The idea of moving from one place to another, one scene from another, is to be approached as a successful activity and about finding ways to overcoming adversity.

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08 /06 /11 Natasha

One thought on “Thoughts cont.

  1. Pingback: Social Potentials of Making the Creative Process Visible | flowcreate

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