Woodland Dioramas
Week 1: I decided to revisit an idea I originally came up with when I had just started the Explore Play Create workshops – making diorama’s in shoe boxes, although back then we used pizza boxes!! The young artists had been promised a woodland themed activity and so I thought this would be the perfect way to fit in as many different processes into our short 3 week summer block. We started off doodling trees – all sorts of different shapes and sizes, practicing mark making and experimenting with patterns. Then onto our toadstool making – another activity I’ve done before – but the children love anything ‘shroom related!! This particular method of making toadstools is super easy and quick and is doable with even the youngest pair of hands. All you need is tin foil, half a plastic egg and some paint – the results – the perfect ‘shroom in all sorts of different colours! Towards the end of the workshop we went outside to make the most of the summer weather and to explore the garden and gather some leaves which we will be adding to our dioramas at the end of the workshop block. The children carefully picked the smallest leaves they could find and carefully placed them onto some board ready to be pressed. And as we are all about trees this block, we had some enthusiastic yoga experts keen to show off their perfect trees!! Brilliant!

Week 2: First off we completed our lovely toadstools by adding spots to them – a quick task which left plenty of time for the main event for week 2 – ‘zentangle’ tree drawing. The name ‘zentangle’ is new too me, the process is not, I mean who doesn’t doodle?! And I’ve been doing a form of ‘zentangle’ drawing activities with my own children for a long time – they are a great way to get the children to concentrate and become absorbed in a fun pattern-based drawing activity. We even did some ‘zentangle’ doodling during the Easter Holiday workshops.

So, the little artists were encouraged to draw simple shapes which represented trees, and instead of drawing branches and leaves, they were encouraged to draw repeated patterns for each tree – simple patterns such as circles, spirals, zig-zags and dots etc playing with such things as colour and scale. This is a really accessible activity for anyone as more complex patterns can be developed depending on age and ability. These drawings would create the back drop for their woodland dioramas and – some of the children added in woodland creatures.

**I have recently had the pleasure of exhibiting with a couple of artists who use intricate drawings in their artwork. Both artists use pencil, pen and ink, but in quite different ways to create detailed and extraordinarily beautiful artwork. Whimsical Lush produces quirky illustrations and Karen Rae makes highly detailed illustrations inspired by timepieces – both artists use pattern in their artworks and I can only imagine the patient and concentration required to undertake this. And I wanted to give my little artists just a wee taster of the possibilities of this gorgeous approach to drawing!

Week 3: What a busy workshop week 3 was!!! We had so much to do to get the contents of our shoe boxes completed and then constructed. The children busily completed the drawings of their forests, the forest floor and skies. They then moved on to making their tree – using twigs from the Silver Birch in my garden, they carefully stuck on the pressed leaves from week 1, and some also chose to stick on coloured paper leaves too – some chose Autumn colours, other Summer colours. The final making task was using a dried avocado stone to make a little woodland mouse!! Finally, all their creations were brought together to make the dioramas – the children each chose where to place each artwork, and I used the hot glue gun to fasten them securely in place…everyone was so proud of their gorgeous finished creations!

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