After School Art Mentorship

6:57 pm in EAL/LA, Professional Development by K. Ryan Henisey

Pencil Nubs
Last year I became an active member at EAL/LA and one of the things that I’ve admired about my peers is how proactive they are in every aspect of their lives.  This fall’s Creative Conversations, the September workshop with Spark LA, and the energy everyone brings to the various events has inspired me and I’ve been driven by these examples to give back.  This semester, I’m leading a small art mentorship at my elementary school.

There are twelve students in the program and we will meet twice a month for two hours.  The students will also have access to an art room at school and to me as their mentor.  I have a small donation fund, permission, and access to some school supplies and thought, “I don’t need anything else to get started.”  Over the next few months, I’ll be chronicling my journey with these students, their art, and the program.  For the students, I hope to have a sketch a day (even for the youngest one), a monthly piece of art, and a collaborative piece as a final.  As for myself, I would like the students to learn art basics, have their art to shown in the community, possibly find more funding, and try and have as much fun with creative children as possible.  I hope you’ll join us, twice a month.

Before winter break, I had interested student submit applications and an art sample.  I had set twelve as the limit for the program, knowing that the students would need time both at school and at home.  My principal agreed.  The student body seemed to as well; exactly twelve students applied.  Our first meeting was last week.  Most of the students are fifth and sixth graders.  There are a couple of third graders, and one very brave, first grader.  Each of them displays interest in the arts.

After introducing ourselves around the room, I showed the students my collection of “how to” books – Anatomy for the Artist, A Course in Oils, Acrylic Basics, etc.  The fifth grade boys perked at the DC Comics series and other comic book drawing guides.  Surprisingly, it was the girls who went looking for various wonder women first.  “I’m going to make myself a superhero,” one girl exclaimed.

I passed out new, large sized sketchbooks to each of the children.  I had found them on sale (buy one get one for a penny) at Aaron Brothers.   The class went wild.  They were incredibly excited; I was too.  We talked about sketching every day as part of the project for the class.  We drew three-dimensional shapes, practiced shading, and drew a face.  The students were on point for both hours.  The tone of the room was jovial, but everyone was respectful, attentive to their work, and receptive to guidance.

The very next day, one of the other teachers came to tell me he had to confiscate a sketchbook – we laughed about it and both encouraged the student draw at appropriate times.  “You can draw in your book anywhere you want when you graduate,” I whispered in his ear.  That got a laugh.

Next week, we are going to decide on a final project, make color wheels, and start projects for an art contest.

Pencil Nubs, shown above, is student drawings on canvas with acrylic.  

This also appears on my site,

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