Tag Archives: Electric Theatre

Digital art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

As if often the case in a half term The Electric Theatre in Guildford asked me to run a couple of art sessions for 5-9 year olds. Mondays theme was traditional art and Wednesday was digital.

We started, as almost all of my classes do, with a couple of psychological tricks to explain how easy drawing is. Once that barrier is broken (about 10 minutes in if I’m taking the scenic route) we started to draw on tablet.

And excellent fun it was too, as these sessions often tend to be 🙂

On the touch screens we started with the very lovely Tesco Hudl (first generation) and used Autodesk Sketchbook to take photos of drawn owls and colour them:

Then we did a little bit of face liquifying (still on Hudl) which went down brilliantly 🙂

We did a bit of Autostitch panorama photo taking:

(click on the photos for larger versions)

…and we drew on a range of apps:

Fresh Paint app on Surface RT.

Brushes app (v2) on iPad.

Autodesk Sketchbook on Hudl.

Adobe Photoshop on Hudl.

ArtRage on iPad.

All in all? A lot of fun and, I think, a good few new 6 year old touch screen artists ready to carry on where they left off after the 2 hour session (all asked which apps and styli they should buy and all of the parents/grandparents looked relieved when I told them that the prices were generally low and affordable). The feedback was excellent with the often asked question ‘are you going to do more of these sessions’ becoming more and more pressing on my mind 🙂 Hopefully soon (although not until early 2015 that said).

I was also lucky enough to be joined by three of my College students – all very capable tablet art tutors in their own right – which meant that if I’d so wanted I could have delegated all of the work to them! I didn’t of course – doing youth arts work is too much fun to not be involved in – but it was lovely to know that I could hand off to them when I wanted the younger kids to have some extra assistance…

Next up? Half a days rest. I think I’ve earned it 🙂

Traditional art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

I’m lucky that my job is often my hobby (and vice versa).

Witness the Electric Theatre Family Festivals, for example 🙂 I get to stand and run around and draw with dozens of lovely kids and their parents and grandparents and, generally, do traditional and touch screen drawings together. I’ve done various things there on Surface tablet, Hudl and iPad but the sessions which are the most popular are almost always the Shrink Plastic sessions

On Monday the ‘Leccy asked me to run a drawing session with a theme of making cities. The thing that came to mind was allowing the kids to rampage through cities as a monster or a superhero… But I was aware that when you have a dozen kids all asking for help at the same time, not to mention the fact that you’ll be tied to an oven cooking shrink plastic for much of the session, on my own, then it all had to be fairly self explanatory and easy to conduct. On a material budget of £30.

So we made masks:

and we made city buildings to be added to an ever growing Electric City…

…which anyone could be photographed in…

but, of course, the major part of the session was Shrink Plastic…

…and, all in all, it was  a very lovely five hours of creative chaos, drawing, cooking shrink plastic, chatting and laughing.

Except for when pumpkins were scarily (but fabulously 🙂 ) drawn… Aaargh. Back there soon to do tablet art again and I’m hopeful that’s an equally lovely session.

Relaxed friday at the ‘Leccy.

Blimey was that only two days ago? Had loads of stuff happen since then.

Twice a year the Electric Theatre holds a very lovely Family Festival – a chance for younger kids to get involved in holiday activities they might normally not be a part of, like art classes, discos, theatrical workshops and so on.

During the latter half of last year, can’t remember when, I was asked if I could help them collaborate on a relaxed Friday within the week where special needs children of all types would feel welcome and catered for. Not that they’ve ever been unwelcome at anything the ‘Leccy has put on and I’ve always had a good ratio of ASC* kids in my art classes… but to put on an event where they would be the principle audience? Exciting and terrifying all in one go, for the people who’d not done them before (and for me too, way back when before my journey with Autism began).

In the end I was needed far less than was expected (turning up for a few meetings, suggesting changes in signage etc) and was on hand during the day to talk to parents and children but did so less often than the Electric Theatre staff who seem amazingly qualified in stepping in and talking to people at the drop of a hat. All of the training and talks and ‘what ifs’ disappeared in a melee of 100 kids and parents, all happily chatting and helping each other and providing very positive feedback at the end. I’m fairly sure this is just the beginning of this provision from the venue.

Personal highlight? More than a few. One young boy wanted to be on the stage, so the actors let him and he became an unassuming star of the show, a few kids with severe motor impairments came along and ended up smiling and laughing in a circular dance with others around the actors. It was a hugely, wonderfully, completely joyous time and, speaking as a parent of an Autistic child, I could completely relate to the nervous looks on the faces of the parents as they walked in and relieved and happy faces at the end, they and their children having been a part of something that seemed always aimed only at neurotypical children and families.

(the quiet corner, which was so lovely as a space I could happily have curled up in there to chill out myself…)

*Autistic Spectrum Condition seems to be taking over from Autistic Spectrum Disorder which I’m glad about. The latter description has always felt very negative to me.

A little more ‘Leccy.

A couple of stray pics post kids tablet art stuff yesterday.

The one above is a pic I started upside down while talking to the kids in the group and explaining how to do layers in Sketchbook Pro. Added a smidge more colour and there you go.

The first of the two pics below is an iPhone Autostitch picture that I edited via ArtRage – all on iPhone. The ‘Leccy liked it so much they asked if they could have a higher res version, which is nice 🙂

The second pic, well, I took some soft stuffed creatures to be models for any of the kids wanting to draw from a model. They were the first two I found in the filing cabinet so I thought ‘why not…?’

The third is a very cool metal Owl I bought from the pound shop while picking up wet wipes to clean the screens at half time 🙂

Back at the ‘Leccy.

I’ve done a few art events for young people at the Electric Theatre but, until now, they’ve predominantly been shrink plastic sessions, which is fine, as they always sell out quickly and get very lovely feedback.

For some reason, this time, we all agreed that tablet art sessions might be a good fun thing and a bit of a change for all involved. And, yes it was 🙂 I’m not 100% sure it was an easier session to do (although it was a lighter session to pack up and carry… but the charging of 15 machines twice in one day was a little tricksome to facilitate).

We started with simple art lessons, just so everyone was up to speed on basic drawing tactics (and also to preserve a little bit of battery life). There are a quick set of ten lessons that I’ve been doing as long as I’ve been doing Fish and the Family Festivals which I occasionally rejig a little (mainly in terms of the order I do them in as much as anything) but which teach a huge amount of simple art principles – and confidence – in 30 minutes.

My pic to explain some art principles using the example of a soft, stuffed owl.

One of the kids pics following an example of how to draw a 15 point person. Basically I think I was owned, as some of the youth are wont to say…

Then we moved onto the tablets. And the kids took to them with as much speed and enthusiasm as I could have hoped. We stuck, for the most part, to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (which might have surprised me a year ago but I’ve really grown to love as an app). Also, again for the most part, we used Tesco Hudl 7″ Android tablets (which to be frank I REALLY should be on commission for and again is a bit of a surprise to me… If you’d told me a year ago that a relatively inexpensive small screen Android tab would be one of my favourites I’d probably have asked if I could see the world through the strange tinted spectacles you were wearing).

I didn’t have enough tablets to do a whole group with the Hudl’s though so we also used a few iPads and Nintendo 3DS’ and the kids themselves brought a range of devices from iPad to Nexus, Samsung to an unbranded Android device I’d not seen before.All in all a wonderful day and the kids were enormous fun to share the sessions with. More pictures to come, when I get the chance to upload them all.

I did make up a still life for the kids to draw if they found themselves stuck for ideas.

More fool me, really. They were a hive of ideas and came out with some brilliantly crazy things to draw and create and we had a lot of fun talking about how some of the pictures came to be. Both 130 min sessions flew by and, hopefully, a full gallery will be up soon on the Leccy webby…

Also did a bit of a collab draw… One of the participants did a pencil drawing that I especially liked and we took a photo – mainly so I could show her how to colour it in using layers to help. That became this 🙂

Anyhow: long day, 31 happy kids, 60 pics drawn minimum over 5 different screen formats? Once blog posts done it’s screens off and a bit of relax time I think.

Loads of shrink plastic stuff…

I’m very much not, but neither am I Lex Luthor I guess… Hey ho.

But brilliant daughter made me this to say well done for doing a shrink plastic session with LOADS of kids, despite the fact that I couldn’t have done it without her and her cousin helping out (so many kids! Aaargh!! but was loads of fun as they always are at the ‘Leccy).

Also did a small group making consequence characters and had to make one to show them what they might look like… Hence, of course, Mar-One – the robotic Marmite on toast maker:


… and popped into the Electric Theatre to drop in the final piece of what we did – a large montage picture that everyone contributed to and made consequence characters named after all of the ‘Leccy staff…




Pre-school Surface Tablet art session…

Saturday (and Wednesday as well) saw me take to the Electric Theatre to do some artwork with young people.

Wednesdays gig was doing mini book creation and manga art drawing techniques, which was as lovely as it ever is. I wouldn’t say that the time flies by – oh boy was I tired by the end of it – but the kids were brilliant and we all had a lot of fun.

Saturday was different though – I was asked to sit down and draw on tablet with any kids that wanted to join in. The main change was the Wednesday kids were 12 – 15 and the Saturday ones were 3 -5 year olds. I wasn’t sure how it would go.

As it was it was lovely. I did do some video but have an email to do list you wouldn’t believe but the kids love drawing, primarily on a Surface tablet running Fresh Paint. They occasionally struggled with the method of bringing on the interface but once away they were flying…

(this is the cushion one of the kids had been sitting on prior to drawing. He was a very young mind yet put a LOT of thinking into each colour and where he wanted it. When he had finished I asked him if he wanted to add anything more and he said ‘no. That’s right’ and walked off, happy).

Video, I hope, to come. But it was a LOT of fun to do (thanks ‘Leccy) and I hope I get to do pre-school tablet art again…

iPad art session for ages 3 and up…

For the past week it’s been half term and, since I’m now only 2 days a week at the college, I’ve been picking up freelance work where I can. One of the loveliest jobs offered to me was three days at the Electric Theatre to take part in their Family Festival: one day mini book making, one day Manga art lessons and today, doing iPad art as part of the Arty Fun session… Katy Ashworth from CBBC was leading the day and I was in the background, encouraging all who wanted to to draw on the iPad using either a Nomad Play brush and a Stylus Sock especially when young children were queueing to have their photos taken with her – it was a pretty long line so I was the mid- line entertainment…)

Lovely day, lovely time, lovely kids. Will finish the pic off next week (was so busy not many of the Electric Theatre team got to draw on the picture so will take the iPad back in for them to add to in the coming week) but this is what the kids, ages 3 and up, got up to between 1.30 and 4.30…