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Through the Eyes of a Child

The Famine-Genocide of Ukraine 1932-1933


ART EXHIBIT PROJECT
Toronto, Ontario   November 2000

Sponsored by
Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) – Toronto Branch

Curator and Art Teacher
Halia Dmytryshyn



INTRODUCTION

The idea to combine art painted by school children with the subject of The Famine-Genocide in Ukraine (1932-1933) came about one Sunday afternoon by a chance meeting of two teachers attending a church tea.  One, early childhood teacher and artist Halia Dmytryshyn, the other elementary teacher, Maria Szkambara, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), Toronto Branch, and a member of its Famine Genocide Commemorative Committee.

In the past UCC has invited young people in the community to participate in events and activities relating to Famine Genocide commemoration as well as provided information, books, pamphlets and visual materials to schools in the hopes of furthering children’s knowledge and encouraging students to use this material to write about this subject in their History, Social Studies and English classes.

This year the goal was to provide students the opportunity to experience “The Famine-Genocide” through their own artwork, “through their own eyes”, to allow them to express their thoughts and feelings with paint and brushes.  With enthusiastic support of all the other Famine Genocide Commemorative Committee members: Lesya Jones, Lesia Korobaylo and Chair Eugene Yakovitch, THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD: THE FAMINE-GENOCIDE OF UKRAINE in 1932-1933, was launched.

This project was a huge undertaking and involved the principals, teachers and children of four Toronto area elementary schools: St Demetrius, St. Josaphat, St. Sofia and Joseph Cardinal Slipyj.  Over 200 students took part in the full-day workshops during October 2000, and 210 works of art were painted by children of Grades 6, 7, and 8.

The project culminated with an Art Exhibit at the Toronto City Hall Rotunda, on display during the week-long Famine Genocide events in November 2000.  A commemoration service held on November 22, 2000 at 7 p.m. was a memorable evening, which included many guests, dignitaries, speakers, as well as Famine Genocide survivors. Guest author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, launched her new book “Enough”, based on the Famine in Ukraine. Also present was guest artist Michael Marchenko, illustrator of “Enough” as well as numerous other well-known childrens’ books.  Many of the young artists were also present with their families and accepted autographed copies of “Enough” for their school libraries presented to them by Maria Szkambara, President of UCC-Toronto Branch.
 

PROJECT IDEA

The project idea is to present an art workshop to participating children, combining the subject of THE FAMINE GENOCIDE IN UKRAINE from the perspective of ART THEORY, PRINCIPLES AND ART PRODUCTION. This would allow the students to reflect and express  their knowledge and thoughts about the Famine, by painting images of these events as they envisioned they may have occurred.
 


CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR ART THEORY, PRINCIPLES AND ART PRODUCTION


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Art is a language – a visual language
Art is a visual language common to all, understood and appreciated by all people throughout history.  Perhaps even as the cave paintings etched with lumps of coloured clay by ancient man on the walls of his primitive dwellings, were meant to be understood and appreciated by all who viewed them - a millennia before verbal and written language.

All young children understand and can partake in this visual language, given the opportunity and their natural inclination to do so.  The range of abilities for each child is wide and varied but each has potential, if given that opportunity.

As they grow and mature, children pass through recognizeable stages in their development of artistic expression.

Children’s stages of art development

  1. Manipulation/Discovery Stage – the scribble stage (2-4 years of age)
  2. Schematic/Symbolic Stage – pictures of almost recognizeable form (4-8 years of age)
  3. Transitional Stage – the beginning of realism (8-9 years of age)
  4. Realism/Realizational Stage – reasoning (9 years of age and older)


In effective art programs, these different stages of art development are addressed.  Young children create spontaneously, often motivated by the mere presence of colourful art material.  Older children, however, strive for realism, and as they develop, they are encouraged to observe, draw, and paint by looking at the world around them.  Teachers can provide many opportunities for children to draw/sketch from real life.  Scenes from nature (trees, clouds etc.), objects (cars, buildings, clothes, books etc.) and people (teachers, friends, classmates, siblings etc.) provide excellent models for students to further their developing language of art.
 

Art Education - Principles

Ideally art education is an on-going process, introduced early and continued through the school years.  Each new grade level classroom/art teacher continues art development by building on children’s previous knowledge and skills by planning a program rich in information, visual stimulation and materials in a comfortable, nurturing environment.
 

Principles of Art

Children learn and gain new skills through planned activities and projects based on:

  1. Elements of Art - building blocks of art: line, shape, colour, texture, value, form & space
  2. Principles of Art - the design, balance, pattern, rhythm, movement, emphasis & harmony
  3. Art Appreciation - being able to view, enjoy, evaluate others’ artwork based on the understanding of art elements, principles & their structure (this is usually a function of maturity)
  4. Art History - to study, to learn the story of art through time, from cave drawings to modern art & about the artists behind the work


Providing children with a variety of different art materials and open-ended tasks, with many opportunities to: draw, cut, paste, mix paint, pinch clay, sculpt, build, assemble, take apart, weave, paint, construct, etc. allows children to make countless: observations, theorize,  hypothesize, reach conclusions, and make many decisions regarding: colours, materials, sizes, patterns, values, construction etc.  These activities require thinking, planning and evaluating to implement solutions.

These kinds of activities reinforce learning and teach new skills to be used in innovative and creative ways.  They help children integrate complex information and develop problem solving skills. Creative thinking and the expression of ideas through artwork production will flourish, in a supportive, encouraging, stimulus-rich environment.
 

REGARDLESS OF THE SUBJECT MATTER, INTEGRATING SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND THEMES WITH ART EDUCATION IS A VALUABLE STRATEGY IN TEACHING.


It helps reinforce previous learning by requiring students to imagine and give visual form to their observations and feelings about concepts, problems, theories etc, based on curricular subjects.  However, integration should further the creative process when combining subject matter with art.  It should reflect the values of Art Elements and Principles when planning activities and projects based on specific topics.  This enriched course of study then becomes a rewarding teaching/learning experience for both teacher and students.
 



 

LESSON  PLAN


THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
THE FAMINE-GENOCIDE OF UKRAINE 1932-1933
 

  1. Project Proposal
  2. Planning the Workshop
  3. Goal
  4. Objectives
  5. Motivation – Verbal Strategies, Visual Strategies
  6. Discussion Overview “Famine-Genocide”
  7. Overview Presentation
  8. Presentation of Art Elements & Art Principles
  9. Presentation of Art Materials
  10. Art Production
  11. Painting Time


1. PROJECT PROPOSAL

To present a one-day art workshop based on The Famine-Genocide of Ukraine in 1923-1933.

2. PLANNING THE ART WORKSHOP PROJECT

Although a one-day art workshop requires many of the same characteristics as an on-going art program, but obviously due to time constraints, it needs to be condensed, intense, and focused on the goals and objectives of the project.

Preparation for a one-day workshop is very important. Though upper grade children may have some knowledge and skills on the subject to be presented, the teacher must plan and prepare for the topic assuming they know very little. However preparation should also include broader information for students with advanced knowledge. The planning must be all-inclusive yet flexible enough to accommodate students of different ages, grades, skill and knowledge levels, yet structured enough to engage and challenge them.

3. GOAL

To allow students the opportunity to paint meaningful paintings with a view to ART Elements and Principles, based on the subject of the Famine-Genocide of Ukraine in 1932-1933.
 

4. OBJECTIVES

  1. To present an OVERVIEW OF THE EVENTS leading up to and including the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933 in a manner so as to:
    1. engage them emotionally in the events
    2. have them identify with the people and events
    3. express their ideas and feelings in a meaningful way when painting

    4.  
  2. To give students the opportunity to use good quality watercolour cake paints and a variety of artist’s brushes and all the art supplies needed to paint in a comfortable ambient atmosphere with enough time to plan, paint and complete a painting.

  3.  
  4. To present students with some basic concepts of Art Elements and Principles (as described above).

  5.  
  6. To help students begin their composition by a brief discussion of contour lines, sketching or drawing an outline using chalk on construction paper.


5. MOTIVATION

Motivation can generally be defined as the inner drive that causes an individual to want to do something.  The teacher's purpose is to do just that – to inspire, to invite, to encourage the students to want to say, express, write, paint about the way they think and feel about their subject.  Motivation is the teacher’s most important role.  There are many ways to motivate students.  For this project, motivational strategies consisted of two components: verbal strategies and visual strategies.

Verbal Strategies

  1. Narrative – information is presented through story telling with voice inflection, dramatic emphasis, gesture, role-playing speech

  2.  
  3. Brainstorming – the teacher presents a question, an open ended statement or an idea; and children respond one at a time.
    1. All answers are accepted and recorded either on a chalkboard or on chart paper for all the class to see
    2. There are no right or wrong answers
    3. All children have a chance to respond if they wish.  The recording person may be the teacher, another teacher, an assistant or a student in the room.

    4.  

       

      This strategy is excellent to use for several reasons: it tells the teacher what children already know about the subject or question asked, what they think and feel about the subject and what information is missing from their comprehension so that gaps may be filled. Since questions and answers are recorded, the written information may later be posted in the classroom for children to read and use anytime required.  Since these are all the children’s own ideas and answers, the record is meaningful to the class.
       

  4. Chanting - children are able to read the brainstormed text over & over again as a whole class.

  5.  
  6. Question & Answer Discussion – a basic tool whereby the teacher poses a question and invites children to respond.  As before, this allows the teacher to learn what information the children possess, what they think and feel and what information needs to be included on the topic. Unlike brainstorming, information does not need to be recorded.  Further dialogue and discussion expands ideas and generates new ones.

  7.  
  8. Cloze – a basic strategy where words or phrases in a sentence are omitted and students must fill in the blanks with words or phrases so that they make sense in the context of the sentence.  Cloze is, therefore, a technique, which fosters anticipating and predicting language.  The answers may be open-ended or have one correct response.  For example, “The wheat was the colour of _________.”

  9.  
  10. Categorizing – a basic activity of thinking and concept development – putting ideas into groups according to some criteria.  For example, ideas of how things are alike or different from each other can give new perspectives on the topic.


Visual Strategies

1. Pictures:

– from magazines, newspapers, and books based on many subjects in all sorts of groupings and arrangements. For example: Foods - fruit (common, tropical, exotic); grains - (wheat, sunflowers) in fields and crops growing in Canada, USA, Ukraine etc.; People from different parts of the world, doing all sorts of work, celebrating, dressed in costumes or work clothes, children; Livestock, animals, pets; Machinery – tools, equipment.
     These pictures provide invaluable support material for the discussion on the “overview”.  The pictures, however, are not presented to shape/form the children’s ideas, but are used to focus their attention on the picture and have them think whether the pictures support the context of the discussion.  For example, one question posed early on in the discussion overview was “What do you think people in Ukraine grew in their fields in the 1930’s?”  Holding up a picture of a pineapple: “No, no, no” is the response.  “Of course they didn’t grow pineapples on their farms, everybody knows pineapples grow in warm climates like Hawaii.”  This information is subconsciously reviewed in children’s minds.  They already have this knowledge, however, this method focuses all their attention on the question again. “What do you think people in Ukraine grew in their fields in the 1930’s?”  Their minds eliminate the inappropriate answers like an instant rolodex – click, click, click… and pick out the correct foods.  “No, no, no teacher, they didn’t grow pineapples, that’s silly.  They grew wheat, corn, cabbage, etc…”   Not one appropriate answer comes to mind, but many, one by one.

     If we are brainstorming for this particular information it is recorded and used again. Pictures are not used to provide the answers for the class, but to stimulate children to think by seeing contrary information.  Even though our time for discussion is short, this method ensures that children provide the ideas and gain new knowledge through their own process of gathering information: elimination or acceptance of information generated by whole class discussion.

     Had relevant information not been forthcoming, it would have to be provided where needed.  But, had images of a wheat field or Ukrainian farmers working the land been held up in front of the class initially, their thinking and image forming process would have been directed.  However such pictures can be shown later, after all information has been gathered and discussed, and as reference material during the painting process.


2. Posters of artwork:

- posters and art reproductions of other artists’ impressions of The Famine-Genocide are also displayed in the context of the Art Elements and Principles discussion.  “How did the artist use the shapes and colours in his painting to express the feeling of hunger? agony? starvation? pain? sadness?”
3. Objects:
– Dolls, dressed in traditional Ukrainian costumes display intricate patterns and designs on there clothing. Teacher’s questions to the class: “What lines were repeated to produce the pattern in the embroidery of the blouses?”  “What shapes on the shirt are seen – triangles, rectangles…?”  All this provides children with the ideas and images for their own work later on.


4. Books:

– can be read from, shown, alluded to, or quoted from.  Books record history and indeed, all events of life.  The author’s words provide knowledge, information and lend credence to past events.  Children’s picture book “Enough” by author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrator Michael Marchenko was introduced to the discussion as examples of artworks created by Mr. Marchenko.


5. Teaching Boards:

– large visuals made of black foam core boards.  These large boards contain material important to the overview of the Famine-Genocide presentation and are on view throughout the entire workshop:
a) (in full view the book) “Agony of a Nation” by Stephen Oleskiw
b) the quotation* from this book (found on page 20) used in the presentation
c) “Enough” by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
d) posters of past Famine-Genocide commemorations printed by the Ukrainian Canadian Congresses of Winnipeg and Toronto
e) pictures and postcards of Famine-Genocide monuments in Winnipeg and Edmonton
f) copies of art on the Famine-Genocide produced by artists around the world
g) symbols, flags, tridents and maps of Ukraine
h) paintings and pictures of the Famine-Genocide made by other children
i) small portraits of children, mothers, fathers, families in Ukraine
j) brainstorming list
k) if there is any room left, anything else that provides a stimulus


A series of small plastic baggies stapled to the board hold these materials in place. Several smaller teaching boards (constructed in the same method described above) contain visuals and material on Art Elements and Principles.


6. Pocket Charts and Word Cards:

– a chart with fixed pockets for moveable words or sentences is a very useful aid for lower grades.  However, they are sometimes used in higher grades to emphasize certain points.  For example, during the overview, the quote by Mendel Khataevich from the book “Agony of a Nation” by Stephen Oleskiw was presented:

* “There was a RUTHLESS STRUGGLE going on between the UKRAINIAN PEASANTRY and the RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY… a struggle to the Death.  This year (1933) was a test of our strength.  It took a FAMINE to show them “WHO IS THE MASTER HERE”.  It cost MILLIONS of lives, but the COLLECTIVE SYSTEM is here to stay.  WE HAVE WON THE WAR”.

This quote was typed and enlarged to poster size and stapled on the teaching board.  Certain important words and phrases from the quote were highlighted.  These words were printed on separate construction paper cards (3”x12”) and placed in plastic baggies (also stapled to the teaching board) next to a small pocket chart (also affixed to the teaching board).  During the “overview”, the quote was read and before the discussion began, the word cards were presented one at a time.  Students were asked the meaning of the words and phrases and what feelings the words evoked. Each word card was pondered and put in a pocket chart to be read again later.  The whole quote became more meaningful and significant because of the word-by-word presentation and the analysis that this method provided.

6. DISCUSSION OVERVIEW “FAMINE-GENOCIDE”

The Famine-Genocide of Ukraine is a painful subject.  It is the story of a people, millions of whom who were starved to death in their own land,  by a regime that wanted to bring Ukraine under a communal collective system.

Some of the following points compose the Famine-Genocide discussion overview:

  1. The conditions in Ukraine in the 1920s and early 1930’s

  2.  
  3. The nature and general characteristics of Ukrainian people of those times

  4.  
  5. The socio-political policies and edicts of Stalin and the soviet communist government during the 1920’s and 1930’s

  6.  
  7. The soviet economic plan for Ukraine – collectivization and industrialization

  8.  
  9. Collectivization – what it meant for the Ukrainian people

  10.  
  11. Results of collectivization – displacement of people, mass national starvation, etc.

  12.  
  13. International response to the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine
7. OVERVIEW PRESENTATION

Each full-day workshop consists of a verbal and a visual overview presentation (approximately 60 minutes) of the events in Ukraine from the early 1930’s to the man-made Famine in 1932-1933.  The verbal component includes questions, answers, narratives and discussion interspersed with the visuals – pictures, charts, quotes, books that challenge, contradict, emphasize and aid the thinking process.

Discussion as presented by art teacher Halia Dmytryshyn
“ I wanted to present the events of 1932-1933 in a manner that not only reviewed and reinforced information students already possessed, but to provide further insight into the Famine-Genocide story, whereby students would identify and become emotionally involved with the events, and therefore be better able to paint meaningful paintings.”

“To this end, I began each presentation by asking all the children to close their eyes for one moment, and to cast their minds back through time to the early 1930’s to envision the kind of life Ukrainians would have led.  Questions were posed to make children think of their personal connections to the people of those times and thereby more readily identify with them.”
 



Sample questions:
  • “Who in this class had family living in Ukraine?” As hands go up, children respond. “My grandmother, grandfather, uncle, cousin… lived there.”

  •  
  • “What do you think life was like for them in those days before television, before computers, before superstores, mini-malls, before even cars or telephones were household words?”

  •  
  • “What would you girls and boys likely have been doing in those times?  Going to school?  Working in the fields?”

  •  
  • These questions invite students to make comparisons to their own lives today. Various pictures were held up as the discussion progressed and questions were brainstormed. All answers were accepted. For example:
    • “What do you think Ukrainians were like at that time?
    •  Children’s responses: “…happy, religious, loyal, independent, sad, liked to sing, proud, poor, hardworking…”

    •  
  • “How did they live, socialize, celebrate, and earn a living?”

  •  
  • “What kind of clothing was common for them to wear?”

  •  
  • “What did they eat, grow, sell, and produce?”

  •  
  • “How did they express their creativity, value their culture?”

  •  
  • “What were their religious, cultural, economic, political views?”

  •  
  • “What did we inherit from them that continues today?”
    •  Children responded: “… love of dancing, singing, music, making delicious food…”

    •  
  • Such questions were posed, probed and heartily discussed in a lively interactive manner by students.  Approximately 45 minutes later, a verbal picture of the people of Ukraine emerges:  They are hard working, traditional, strong minded, independent, religious people who love to celebrate, sing and dance, love their country, and are proud and patriotic.

  •  
  • Other questions followed to build a picture of the times and the issues facing them:

  •  
  • “What kind of government did they have?”

  •  
  • “Was it a safe, stable time?  No, what made it uncertain, dangerous?”

  •  
  • “What was happening to the social structure?”


Discussion continued on what happened in the 1930’s when communists wanted to take away individual farms to collectivize the land.

  • “What was collectivization?  What did it mean for Ukraine?”

  •  
  • “What edicts did Stalin and the communist regime impose on the people?”

  •  
  • “Did people resist the take-over?” “Did they fight, yield?”

  •  
  • “How could they have resisted?”

  •  
  • “How did food disappear?  Where did it go? Who took it away?”

  •  
  • “Why couldn’t they get food from neighbours? From neighbouring regions, countries, Canada?”

  •  
  • “What did the people do to survive?”

  •  
  • “What happened to the churches? Priests?  Teachers? Leaders of the country?  Did they leave? How were they silenced?”
Questions continued to what happened and children responded with many answers: “… wheat quotas increased, people could not survive on what was left.  Eventually, nothing was left at all.”
  • “What happened then?”  Answers were: hunger, pain, starvation, death, sorrow, horror, etc.


     The discussion session is very important.  Children envision in their minds what it might have been like for some of their ancestors, what they might have seen and experienced.  These images may be sad, awful, cruel, but the events occurred and were real. These images would fuel their imaginations and give birth to what they wanted to express in their painting.

     The lengthy discussion ended on a lively note. However, if the art materials were handed out at this point, the results might not have reflected what these children were capable of producing even after this short time. Because older students want to paint more realistically, some may hesitate and be reluctant to paint from memory or their imaginations as younger children do.  Without concrete objects or models to observe, they can only guess at figure/objects and size/shape/space relationships.  They may not want to risk putting their ideas down on paper yet, especially with a new teacher here only for the day.

     The students need more tools at this point, and other skills to focus on, which will help both their drawing ability and their confidence. The tools, the practical skills, are the building blocks of art – lines, shapes and colours.  These skills are a means, not an end, in themselves in art education, but they add to and enhance children’s efforts.

     It is morning recess time and children require a break.  The morning discussion was indeed lively, interesting and stimulating. During recess the ideas presented will float in the back of their minds, preparing them for work to come.
 

8. PRESENTATION OF ART ELEMENTS (AE) AND ART PRINCIPLES (AP)

After recess,  the practical part of the workshop begins.  The chalkboard serves this purpose well along with teaching boards, and information which display visuals, line, shapes, colours, textures patterns, etc.

Drawing a line on the chalkboard, I begin, 
 

“What is this?
“A line.” ventures a brave soul in the front row.

“Yes, a line.”  I agree.  “But what kind of line?”

“A straight line.”  Someone pipes up.

“That is correct, a straight line.” I continue.  “What is this line called?” I ask, drawing another line on the chalkboard.

“A wavy line.” someone responds.

“And this?”  drawing a diagonal.

“A diagonal.”  Someone responds.

“Yes!”  Excitedly, I exclaim: “I know this is easy for you, but please help me out.” I ask the class as I continue to draw different lines.

“Yes, yes.  This is a zigzag.  And this one is called a …..?”

“Spiral!”

“Good for you Lelia!”  “How about this?”  I continue.  “If we join some of these lines together, what does it become?”

Obviously the answers identify a triangle, rectangle, square, etc.

“How about this?  If I continue with this curved line and join it to this, now you have what?  Yes, circles, ovals, etc.  Now add these together to form more complex forms.”  At this point I draw some animals on the chalk board using the above shapes.  For example, a spiral, plus thin rectangles, plus a little triangle, plus small circles become….  Voila!

“A snail!”  Children exclaim and clap and cheer.

This is a very basic early childhood strategy, but an important one. This strategy works just as well for upper-level students and adults as it does for kindergarteners. Whenever you draw, or put together a few simple lines and shapes to produce animals or other objects, many young and older people will be surprised, not because these drawing are works of art or that they are intricate, but because they are so simple, made from basic lines that join together to make shapes.  It is the wonder of this simple exercise in basic art elements that opens children’s eyes to a new way of looking at the world around them.  It encourages them to look more closely at objects, to become more aware of the shapes and structures around them.

As we proceed, one or two students are asked to go to the window and look outside at the tree in the schoolyard and to tell the rest of the class what words can be used to describe the shape of the tree. Already they know to look for lines.  Before they would have used other words to describe the tree, such as “its kinda tall with all these leaves everywhere.”

Now, one boy answers. “It has straight lines for its trunk, side by side.”

I ask him his name and say “Good for you Steven.”

“What do you call lines that run side by side like this?” as I draw a few of those lines on the chalk board.

“Parallel” someone, shouts out in the back.

“Yes, parallel.”  I enthusiastically agree.

“What shape are the leaves?”  I continue.

The girl by the window puts up her hand.  “I know,” she says.  “They are kind of oval shaped.”

“Do you all agree with Tania?”  “Yes, they’re oval.  Are the ovals pointed on one end?  Yes, this point at one end  modifies the shape of the oval enough to give that leaf its characteristic shape.”

I continue “I wonder if trees like this grew in Ukraine during the Famine-Genocide?  What shapes would you use to draw, say, sunflowers, which grow abundantly in Ukraine?  What shapes would you use to draw a small child, a mother, and workers in the field, the enemy?  What lines and shapes would be used for the vyshyvka, embroidery, in the skirt?  Straight lines, zigzag, triangles?”  I ask children to come and draw some of these shapes on the chalk board.

“What other shapes do you see outside your window?” I continue.  “What about that box on your teacher’s desk?  What designs does it have?  It is a long oval shape with a thinner curved tail shape.”

“That’s called a paisley design.”  Our homeroom teacher tells the class.

“My grandmother has a paisley designed kerchief.”  pipes in a small girl.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Myrocia” she answers.

“Myrocia, might someone’s grandmother in Ukraine have worn a scarf like your grandmother has?”

“Hmm.”  She thinks.  “Maybe I can use this design in my painting.”

“My aunt has a shawl with red poppies on it.”  Someone else volunteers.

Colours?  Yes, we talked about those too.

“Look all around you” They are instructed. “What do you see?  Shades, tints, values, dark, light, dull, bright colours.”
 

The discussion continues. What about design?  The principle elements – patterns (single and repetitive) – how would you incorporate these elements in your paintings?  Where would you find these elements?  In clothing, on wood, stones, in trees, leaves, on homes, in fields…  Can you put all of these things into your paintings?  Will there be space, time?  What would it look like if you tried to put everything we talked about today into your paintings?  You need to decide what the focus of your painting will be.  What subjects or ideas to paint is the first decision students will have to make.  What elements can they use to draw those subjects?  How will they make their subjects look sad?  How will they make their fields look empty?  What lines will show that?  What shapes do they need to use?  What colours will help them with their ideas?  Should the paper be large and all the shapes in the pictures be tiny?  How big should the body be if it is in the front (foreground) of the picture?  What size should the objects be if they are way in the back (background)?


By the end of the session children have reviewed and discussed some of these basic elements  and have hopefully gained new insight:

  • They have learned about lines – straight, short, think, thin, parallel, zig-zag, spiral, horizontal etc.
  • They have learned that lines join to make basic shapes – circle, square, triangle, trapezoid, hexagon, etc.
  • They have learned that shapes joined together combined in various ways formed objects, houses, trees, cats, books, human beings etc
  • They have learned that objects have texture, can be rough, smooth, glass-like, bumpy etc.
  • They have learned that colour is everywhere and in everything around them.
  • They learned that everything around them is put together – designed in ways that have movement or are static, have balance, patterns, etc.
  • They learned that designs inspire: awe, admiration, pleasure, order and delight if put together well with harmony, balance etc., or that designs without harmony, balance, colours may confuse, jar, cause disorder, frighten, anger, etc.
  • They have learned that they need to look, see, touch, to experience and appreciate the world around them.
  • They may have learned that they can express these feelings verbally, visually.


Art is a language everyone can learn.

There are so many things to think about, so many decisions to make.  They know a little better now what they must do to start their painting.  Thoughts again are swirling, ideas humming.  But as before, they are almost ready to paint but not quite yet.  There is still one step, one more tool to be provided before that time.  This time the tools will be the artists’ materials they will use.

This has brought us up to lunchtime.  During the break they will eat and then go outside; perhaps to look at that tree close-up, to look for that vein pattern on the slightly modified oval leaf, perhaps not.
 

9. PRESENTATION OF ART MATERIALS
 

Paint

Quality paints which provide good coverage, are opaque, bright, and long lasting were used for this workshop. These are large round tempera water cake paints, which fit into trays holding 6-8 colours (for more colours use large muffin tins). These tempera cake paints come in many vibrant colours and do not require mixing, which cuts down on mess.  They are very easy to clean up with simple tap water (let trays stand to dry), and can be stacked up on one another for easy storage and transport.

Black and white paints are kept in separate individual cups.  White paints were available at all times for mixing new colours.  Black paint is reserved and used later during the painting process for details and towards the end of session for those who needed black backgrounds or outlining.
 

Brushes

Brushes should consist of a variety of good quality flat and round bristle hairbrushes and flat and round sableline brushes, both in large, medium and fine sizes. Approximately 2-3 brushes/child in a class of 25-35 children should be provided.
 

Paper
Paper used was good quality white construction paper.  The sizes ranged from large 12” x 18” (30.5 cm x 45.5cm) to small 7” x  10” (8 cm x 25 cm) with several sizes in between.

It is a good idea to give students a choice in the size of paper they wish to use.  Some,  are intimidated by a large white sheet of paper, especially if they have little or no painting experience.  Selecting the paper size helps to alleviate some of this concern.
 

Paint Mixing Palettes

White, medium sized styrofoam meat trays or paper plates were provided for each child as paint mixing palettes.
 

Water

Each child was provided with a tomato sauce-size can filled with water for cleaning and rinsing their brushes.
 

Newspaper and Paper Towels

Each worktop should be covered with newspapers to protect desks and paper towels should be on-hand to blot brushes and wipe up water spills.
 

10. ART PRODUCTION

Children will be using coloured chalk only, not pencils, for outlining/sketching in the basic shapes of their composition.  They need include no details, just the larger shapes so that the outlined shapes are designed in manner pleasing to the child.

Finally, art production points are presented.  The young artist needs to keep in mind:
 

  1. Paper size and the figure/object relationship – size of object in relation to the paper size

  2.  
  3. Not to be concerned with “erasing” (with fingers) chalk lines because the opaque watercolour paint will cover most “mistakes” and some chalk lines that remain and show usually become part of the painting adding depth and texture.

  4.  
  5. To be aware of paint applications principles – always start with lighter colours first (not unlike pysanka and batik dying methods).  One can darken light colours easily but not lighten dark ones.

  6.  
  7. Practice the brush size principle – large brushes are for large objects and backgrounds, medium brushes are for smaller areas where using the large flat brushes even sideways won’t do, and fine brushes are only for small areas, details for intricate designs or for outlining when the painting is completed.

  8.  
  9. To offset the concern some students have with realistic endeavours, many small black and white newspaper clippings of people in the news in a variety of poses were provided.  As it was the summer of 2000, numerous Olympic images, characterizing athletes in the agony of defeat and in the joy of winning were used. These images provided models for the students who needed them. The students were able to select pictures, not to be copied, but to aid them in positioning figures, objects, scenes, action, etc. on their drawing papers.


This is the last step before painting.  Children have finished lunch and await materials to be handed out.  Desks are arranged in groups of 4 and 6, facing one another.  Students share only trays of paints.  They each have their own set of brushes, can of water, paint mixing palette and paper towels.  All desks are covered with newspaper and water cans are filled.  Because these are hard cake paints, brushes need to be handled properly and a demonstration of this follows as well as a mention of clean-up procedures.
 

11. FINALLY, PAINTING TIME

The children will have most of the afternoon for painting.  During this time the teacher’s job is just as important as before.  Children need further motivation and encouragement as they begin their work.  This is the time to speak with individual children, provide suggestions, comments, encouragement, answer questions and help with problems when needed.  It is important to know both when to step in and offer help and when to allow children to find their own solutions or give them quiet time to think and concentrate on what they are doing.

Students May:

  1. Ask for help anytime

  2.  
  3. Talk, chat and discuss freely and quietly among themselves

  4.  
  5. Trade paint trays with permission of those children whose colours they wish to use

  6.  
  7. Ponder and paint a second painting, time permitting, as some children have done.  (210 paintings from 200 students)


Students Must: 

  1. Ponder, savour and enjoy this painting time!


By participating in this project, these students left a wealth of art about a painful period in the history of Ukraine, The Famine-Genocide Through Their Eyes.  Not only was this a learning, creative and rewarding project for us all, but the art work of these 200 boys and girls will go on to be an inspiration to others.

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I wish to thank all principals, teachers and especially, the students who participated in this unique project.  I am grateful to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Toronto Branch, for making this project possible, and to Maria Szkambara whose hard work and help with this project made it so very memorable.

Artist, Curator, Teacher, Author
Halia Sawycky Dmytryshyn
August 2002

The ideas, work, and concepts presented in these pages cannot be reproduced without the express permission of the author.

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