Collaborative art is easy, right!? Put a beret on, give some kids some paint brushes, let them have at it, voilà! Wrong! Dead, wrong! Organising a group of adults or children to create a cohesive and effective work of art takes a lot of planning and preparation. I experienced this while helping facilitate a collaborative art piece that included 48 square canvases displayed as one work of art for our school’s art auction. I used systematic grids to help guide primary students through each step of the painting process.
I took inspiration from an artwork I pinned on Pinterest a few months ago. Below includes the steps to create a 10 x 10 collaborative acrylic painting of birds on a branch.
Step 1: Create a grid that will be a scale representation of the entire work as well as a guide for each individual canvas. On the back of each canvas, write a number that corresponds with a number on the grid. Then have students paint their canvas to match their number on the grid. Demonstrate how to blend the colours together and paint in the same upward direction.
Step 2: I painted the branch across all of the canvases once they were dry. This is something that students can do as long as you provide them with the grid so they know which part of the branch is in their section.
Step 3: I drew generic bird outlines in each grid square which the students used as a guide to draw that same outline on their canvas with a white coloured pencil.
Step 4: Students followed another grid to show them what base colours to paint their birds.
Step 5: Students followed the final grid to help them position the beak, eyes, legs and the feather detailing.
Step 6: Put the artwork together like a jigsaw puzzle and either you or your students can help touch up the branch to make sure it connects across the canvases and to also add leaves and details into the background.
If I were to do this project again, I would allow the students to trace the shape of the bird and then give them more freedom in painting the colour and style of bird. Although the piece works because it is stylized, I feel that I could have given student more structure in certain places and more freedom in others. In the end, both myself and students feel proud and happy of their work. Now lets see what the auctioneers will think.