Term: 2 Year: 2012

Last year, Year 9 students at Haileybury College created two and three-dimensional shoes.

Through observational drawing, the artists were able to slow down and really look at the details and so take in the shapes and the proportions of their chosen form. The unit consisted of Direct Observational Drawing, Printmaking, Mixed Media and Ceramic Sculpture. The aim was to make a “pair” of shoes that were a scaled down version of the original.  The artists were to maintain the same proportional relationship between their sculptures, despite the fact that they were created out of different materials.

Realistic proportions and rendering were stressed to achieve a trompe l oeil effect. Students strove to create realistic interpretations of their chosen shoe. Surface texture and treatment were carefully considered throughout the project from two dimensional to three dimensional interpretations.  

Materials that could be used included plaster, cardboard, acrylic paint, string and masking tape.  Drawing materials included watercolour, acrylic, gouache, oil-paint, 2B drawing pencils, charcoal, conte crayons, pastels, pen and ink, and markers.

The artists started with the generation of ideas, and then researched their chosen shoe. Following this research they began observational drawings which were required to include a front view, top view and side view to aid in future three-dimensional visualisation and, in turn, the creation of their three-dimensional interpretation.

The direct observation of the shoe also contributed to more sophisticated results. “The more you look the more you see” was our mantra in the drawing process. There was a preliminary drawing activity to this project, so with a working understanding of tone and the tonal scale from white to black and the nuances of greys in between the artists were equipped with a foundation from which to build their drawing skills. 

The task was expanded to include printmaking.  First they created a lino-print. Their contour drawing (traced from direct observational drawings) was etched into a Print Foam plate and an edition of prints was made. The artists then had the opportunity to utilise any imperfect prints through the collage technique into a collaged piece.

Students showed great innovation with their exploration of materials. The expectation was that they were to produce a realistic looking shoe that had to at least maintain the same aspect ratio as the original.

Student feedback was exciting as many spent extra hours in the painting process to create beautifully refined details.  Reflective writing combined with annotated sketches of work in progress helped guide the students in their expressive journey. This activity challenged them to consider their choices and to anticipate the reactions of their viewing audience. Students were also asked to self-evaluate the effectiveness of their shoes. Was it a realistically painted form?  Did they delve into the artistic  process fully, and most importantly, what did they discover along the way?

As this was the first time that I had extended the project to create a conceptually themed semester which enveloped all the skills that I needed to teach I felt that it was a success. Although some students did not like both of their finished shoes, they at least had the experience of exploring many materials and thereby were informed in their aesthetic response to the results. Problem solving was encouraged as was the application of knowledge of the art elements and principles.

Overwhelmingly, the students' favoured material was clay, and though some struggled throughout the design process, having the direct observational experience and later the product from that experience as a visual reference point, I believe led to the student’s empowerment as an artist.  My delight comes from this budding in self-confidence in the student.  This “I Can” attitude leads to further artistic risk taking and discovery, as they continue their studies and communicate with the world through this visual communication. 

Rosemary Narhi, Visual Arts Teacher,
Haileybury, Berwick Campus
Suitable for Level 6