Dear You Art Project

Mail Art + Pen Friends = Dear You Art Project


Artists from Australia make art from “Words that describe me”

2019, 8 years olds, 9 years old, Australia, Dear You Art Workshops, FinlandArlene TuckerComment

The students really enjoyed the first Dear You project. 

Firstly, we spoke about the word translation, and what it means to communicate verbally or visually over long distances. I showed the class a map of the world and showed them where Finland is, they were excited that our artworks will be travelling so far around the world. 

I showed the class some photographic portraits and discussed what the pictures are translating to a viewer. We got a little stuck on visual appearances, many of the responses were superficial, for example “tall, smiling, happy, sad”. I had to encourage them to look beyond the outward appearance and try to decipher what the person may be thinking. After this guidance some deeper thinking became apparent and the students commented that the people in the examples were “lonely, determined, excited, responsible”.

I then gave the sheet and asked them to write down “Words that describe me …”. I modelled a few examples on the board to assist with spelling. They first wrote down what words that they think about themselves, then I encouraged them to brainstorm, walk around the room and ask their peers what they think that they translate to the world around them.

We then spoke about photography and how we could translate these attributes into a photograph, we talked about using perspective, props, light and shade to communicate meaning to a viewer. We practised picking objects around the room (e.g. book, pencil, chair) to use as props, experimented with our body position to communicate a feeling (e.g. looking away from the camera, blocking our face with our hands, leaning into or away from the camera, etc).

I asked the class to prepare props and choose a site in which to have their picture taken. Once they were ready I took their photograph with the school’s digital camera. I invited them to either take the picture indoors or outdoors, I feel like this was a setback because the majority of the students outside choose to perform athletic tricks/moves/positions, rather than communicate an emotion or feeling like we had spoken about earlier. If I did this again I would ask them to create both an indoor picture and an outdoor picture. This strategy would produce improved results I feel.

Nell, choose to communicate “Sensitive”

Nell, choose to communicate “Sensitive”

I printed the photographs, the students cut them to size and glued them onto the sheets. I asked them to underline what single attribute of themselves they were attempting to translate to the viewer of the picture.

On the back of the sheet the students all wrote a short message to their “sister class” in Finland, “Hei”!

Jeremy Gudze 

1/2G Classroom Teacher
Bulli Public School

Harvey, choose to communicate “Brave”

Harvey, choose to communicate “Brave”

The 2nd graders from Mäntykankaan koulun in Kokkola, Finland are making and sharing art with the 1st and 2nd graders from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia.

What? How? When? Why? Where? Let's make it!

2017, 5 years old, 6 years old, Australia, Dear You Art Workshops, FinlandArlene TuckerComment

We had a lot of fun with our latest project thinking up questions to ask our new friends from Finland. None of us has ever been to Finland - it seems a long way away right up there at the top of the world!

Before we started our project we talked a lot about the kinds of things we would like to know about boys and girls of our age from a different country. We looked at various examples of typography and graphic design. We also practiced writing our names on the computer in Word using different fonts, sizes, colours and features.

We tried to make the art works containing our questions look interesting by using different writing styles and trying our hand with special designs and graphics. We can’t wait to find out the answers to our questions. We’re also really excited  to read your questions for us!

Looking forward to our next big envelope!

All the best,
Everyone in K/1HT

The K1HT class from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia are making and sharing art with the Monkeys from Your School in Espoo, Finland. Both groups are 5-6 year old artists.

From single to double self portraits

2017, 5 years old, 6 years old, AustraliaArlene Tucker1 Comment

We had fun on our first Dear You !

The kids had done the priming activities before the day, discussing identity and DNA etc with Barbara Turner, the classroom teacher. 

They had also spent some time preparing their "transfer paper" with 6B pencils so that when it came time to doing their self portraits, they were able to hit the ground running.

On the day we did two activities - the first was doing a self portrait with the eyes closed, and i did a demonstration of this on the whiteboard, which was a source of much hilarity - the resulting self portrait is pretty odd! 

Self portrait with eyes closed using hand to feel the face. Demonstration on whiteboard for K1HT class, for the Dear You Art Project with a class in Finland.

Self portrait with eyes closed using hand to feel the face. Demonstration on whiteboard for K1HT class, for the Dear You Art Project with a class in Finland.

Some of the kids were able to concentrate on this for a bit - many of them found it challenging to keep their eyes closed and focused, perhaps because of the proximity of all their friends - but at any rate it offered an alternative way of "seeing" the world through touch. 

For the second activity, I had found some double mirrors from the university - our visual arts students use them for a self-portraiture activity in first year. They are on a hinge, I think these mirrors are designed for hairdressing apprentices originally.

So I asked them to do a 'double self portrait'. There were a few tricky things about this - the mirrors were standing up at 90 degrees on the desk, and so their reflective surface was a bit low for them to see their own faces. So Barbara got them to take away their chairs and kneel down on the floor so they could actually see their own faces. 

The other tricky bit was just how to do a double self portrait. I didn't give them a demonstration - partly because I wanted to see what they would come up with - but in retrospect it might have been good to do so. There are some basic things about drawing your own face in a mirror which would have been worth pointing out - like observing specific things about the visual characteristics of one's own face, rather than just taking for granted that we all have two eyes, a nose and a mouth. You know, the usual "draw what you see, not what you think you see". 

So I reckon if we were to do something like this again, I'd focus more on the actual mechanics/principles of observational drawing, so we would generate more specific, less generic, faces.

However, some of the kids did do some really interesting double self portraits, strange doublings, where two faces sit side by side, or one next to the other, or one slightly at different scale but otherwise almost identical. 

We then got them to do their transfer print, using their double self portrait. This was a process involving a normal pencil - so that a harder tip could push the image through the 2 layers of paper onto the sheet that was receiving the image. 

The transfer prints came through successfully, a bit faint perhaps, but it worked. They have a nice low-fi feel to them I think.

Barbara had photocopied lines onto the back of the paper, so the students then wrote a letter to the Monkeys in Finland - they enjoyed this process - for some reason a lot of them want to write "Kind Regards" at the end of their letters - very formal!

After the class, Barbara and I (together with a couple of young artists)  experimented a bit with using crayon or pastel rather than 6B pencil as our transfer medium. This has advantages, as its much faster to cover the surface of the transfer paper with crayon, and the image transfers much more darkly to the final print. I reckon if we were to do this activity again, that's what we'd change. 

I think Barbara was going to post them to you in the day or so after the activity - so with any luck the Monkeys will receive our parcel soon!

All the best,

The K1HT class from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia are making and sharing art with the Monkeys from Your School in Espoo, Finland. Both groups are 5-6 year old artists.