I am now working in a high school with GCSE and A level students which has been very interesting. One of the things that has come up is the way in which the exam criteria values experimentation and diversity of outcome but the pupils seem to find it difficult to decide what that might look like. There is a contrary impulse to play it safe in order to be sure to get the qualification which is against the declared criteria of valuing originality, creativity and experimentation.

My colleague here is interested in the books of Keri Smith
http://www.kerismith.com/ as a way to encourage creativity and I have been looking at them too. I am initially put off by the whimsical presentation though I am prepared to accept that I am not the target audience. She does seem to have hit on a way of selling a book with near blank pages and few words. I have gone through a couple of them and filleted them down to three pages of A4. To be fair she does this herself with a give away list of 100 journal ideas on her website.

Poking about under the bonnet, as it were, I am much more impressed. In the How to be an Explorer of the World book
http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Explorer-World-Portable/dp/0399534601/wishjarjourna-20/ref=nosim/ Keri does say ‘go to the source’. I think the Explorer book is my favourite and after reading it I spent a jolly weekend in London drawing everything I ate and drank and everything I saw from the bus etc. in eight fold books which was my way of doing ‘explorer’ drawings. We have shared these with the pupils and some have taken us up on the idea.

I was given by my colleague the book Mess and I have been playing with that over the past few days. I don’t really want to mash the book up as I was bought up nice and told not to mess books up and besides, if I mess it up then it won’t be any use to a student so I have listed the activites in a sketchbook. This comes out at about 100 ideas which I then photocopied so that I can copy the list for a student so I am sort of backing up my messes and keeping a clean copy.

I have then been dribbling ink and cutting up magazines and doodling and generally doing fairly random little experiments that I intend to put together into a book or folder that I can share with the students. This is perhaps what is meant by an experiment in art. Something where you don’t fully know what the outcome will be.

As youget into it, of course, I start worrying about how high up I drop the ink and what happens if I let it dry and then do a drawing on top or combine that idea with that one and so on so the ideas start to generate new ideas and combos which si what they are supposed to do. I am not sure if they do that for me because I went to art school. Will they do that for the students?

The problem is how do you develop the ideas generated. That is the bit the pupils will need help with. Splodges are OK but they need to see Fiona Rae too and put things together to generate art works.

For me it has been fun doing really art studently things for a bit. Is that part of the problem with an art practice in the classroom? It keeps you a perpetual art student treading water in the same place with your students?