Mrs Thompson began by showing us how to use pastels to create bright coloured pictures. She showed us how to choose at least three colours to fill a space. That was rule number one.
Starting with a light shading of the ‘middle’ colour, we added light and dark colours to make our pictures look more three dimensional. We learned that we had to think about where light would be coming from, and we could use a light colour to highlight this area. Dark colours were added to areas that we thought would be in the shade. We kept adding layers of these colours until they blended together and we could not see any lines where the colours met each other. Rule number two was “No lines”. We practised this in our books until we had it mastered. Now we were ready to start our calendar art.
Mrs Thompson had printed out colourful photos of New Zealand birds as inspiration for our art. We each chose a photo that we liked and looked at it very carefully. After drawing the outline of the bird in pencil, we added our own ideas around it. Some of us added koru, others added rocks, branches, flowers or grass. Clare wanted to add kowhai flowers for her tui, so she searched online to find pictures to look at to get the shape right. Next, we had to choose whether to do a plain background or to draw lines across our background to break it up into segments.
Clare's tui and kowhai
Trend's hoiho with striped background
Te Whetu's kingfisher with koru and stripes
After we were sure of our design we went over all of our pencil lines in sharpie. We went over them two or three times, as we had to make them very thick and bold. That was rule number three.
Mrs Thompson showed us some other techniques with pastels. We learned to add strokes of different coloured pastels going one way to give a feathery look. It was important to look carefully at the birds in the photos to see which direction the feathers went and what colours we could see. It was interesting to discover that many of the birds had lots of different coloured feathers. Jack and Emily discovered that kereru have different shades of blue, green, red, and purple on their backs. Lachie looked closely at his ruru picture and did feathery lines in different directions out from his wise eyes. He used a base of white, with many different shades of brown over top. We built up the feathers on our birds with many, many layers until our birds looked bright and bold.
Lachie's ruru using feathery strokes of pastel in a white pastel base
Some of us chose to use another technique that Mrs Thompson had taught us and we scratched a design into our thick layers of pastel with a toothpick. This was another way to add feathers and details to our pictures if we thought that they were too ‘flat’ looking. Ava used this technique for her bird’s wing. Imogen coloured over her whole colourful bird in black pastel and then scratched out the feathers. Piper added bold patterns to her kea.
Clare scratching a design on her tui
Ava's bird with wing feathers scratched into black
Emily's Kereru with scratched patterns
Imogen's bird with feathers scratched into black
We had to choose background colours that would make our birds stand out. This was when we discussed warm and cool colours. Some of us decided to use shades of blue to make our bright coloured birds pop out. Others chose to do warm sunsets for darker coloured birds. We even had some night skies using purples and blues blended into black. We had to make sure that we had no white paper showing. That was rule number four.
Jordyn lea fantail with sunset
Poppy doing her pastel art
Dallas adding pastel to his kingfisher
Brooke Calendar art
The last step was to clean our sharpie lines. Many of the lines were now covered in pastel. We used cotton buds dipped in cooking oil to carefully wipe the sharpie lines and make them stand out. This took time and patience but finished our pictures off beautifully.
Our pictures came to life and we surprised ourselves.
Clare exclaimed, I can’t believe that this morning this was white paper with pencil lines... and look at it now!
It was exciting to see each other’s finished work go on display. They were all so different from each other, but all bright, bold and beautiful. Everyone wanted to show the principal their bird when it was finished. She had a steady stream of us coming into her office all day. Mrs Thompson was super proud of all of us, and we were really proud of ourselves. Our art took careful observation, creativity and lots of perseverance, but we all got there in the end. We can’t wait to see the calendars, notebooks and greeting cards that our artwork is turned into.
Poppy calendar art
Arley calendar art
Ashtin calendar art
Daniel calendar art
Kevin calendar art