Middle schoolers are currently in the process of exploring the art form of charcoal drawing. They were first introduced to it by learning how to create a wide range of values through the rendering of 3-D forms. Now that they’ve built some familiarity, they’re starting to stretch their understanding of how this art material can be used.
Recently they’ve observed and analyzed the work of Heather Hansen, a performance artist who makes large, symmetrical, gestural charcoal drawings. Trained in both dance and visual art, Hansen is fascinated by using charcoal to document the movement of her body through an almost meditative process. After viewing her work and learning about her background, the students began to experiment working in her drawing style.
Each student sat on the floor with their paper and a stick of charcoal in each hand and practiced making large, synchronized, gestural movements with their arms while drawing. Next, they teamed up with a classmate to create a second artwork where they repeated the process of the previous drawing, but had to also mirror the movement of their partners.