C.S. Poppenga
Artist in Residence
Slater Elementary School - Burns, Oregon
In February 2007, I was an Artist-in-Residence for two weeks at the elementary school in the rural community of Burns, Oregon (USA.)

Grades kindergarten through 5th participated in a series of drawing exercises. This residency differred from others in that the school did not want a mural for a final product. Instead, I conducted drawing sessions that focused on mark-making variety and tools (pencil, charcoal, kneaded eraser and tissue), techniques/methods and observational skills using both a static model (horse skull) and a moving model (figure).
As with all my residencies, the results fully those of the individual students.
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RIGHT: A First Grade student is achieving a wonderfully textured drawing of the model --- in this case, a real horse skull. Students at each grade level dove right in and were not intimidated or daunted by the unusual subject.
BELOW: A small sampling of First Grade student works --- drawings of the skull and also the gesture drawings of the figure.
BELOW: Small sampling of Second Grade student works.
LEFT: Third grade students tackle drawing the horse skull.
BELOW: A small sampling of First Grade student works --- drawings of the skull and also the gesture drawings of the figure.
BELOW: A small sampling of Fifth Grade student drawings, both skull and figure gesture.

                                        RIGHT: A Fifth Grade student's gesture drawing --- strong bold                                              marks change direction rapidly to convey the energy of the actual                                          figure's movement.
BELOW: Small selection of Fourth Grade students' skull and gesture drawings.

LEFT and BELOW: Kindergarden students' gesture drawings. There is a strong element of abstraction and design present in the works of many kindergardeners. While this is also found in the works of the higher grade levels as well, it is always more intriguing for adults seeing it in the work of children age five or six. It comes across as a level of sophistication beyond the child's age..

In the work at the right, I've presented the image as the entire piece of paper the student drew on, as the placement in the picture plane (the entire paper space) is as an important an element of composition as are the drawn figures.
When looking at the drawings, note the variety/quality  of line and other marks (smearing, pulling the charcoal and variety of light/dark lines/marks.
The placement on the page is particularly interesting in this drawing.
Building up volume and illusion of depth with charcoal.
An interesting interpretation of the horse skull --  it focuses on the many curved/bulged contours found in the skull.
Far right figure is especially expressive.
Note placement on the page.
Note evolution of stick figure into figure with volume in these three drawings.
Fine use of eraser "lines" -- lifting charcoal background.
Demonstrates intent observation of the literal.
Possibly the only verticle composition in all grades combined.
Emphasis was placed on contour.
Emphasis more about texture and image is ephemeral in quality.
Note the "bowing" gesture figure -
Very well captured!
Nice weight/volume
felt in this drawing.
Note variety of marks and interplay of lights and darks.
Simple line can be beautiful too!
LEFT: Not a verticle composition--this is a portion of a work. Note the lyrical quality of the larger figure and how it relates to the smaller figure.
LEFT: Another "verticle" resulting from cropping work for posting here. Note the representation of the energy of the trunk of the body --- like a coiled wire ready to spring!
BELOW: One of the Kindergarden Teachers put up a display of her class' drawings.
LEFT: One of the First Grade Teachers put up a display of her class' drawings.
LEFT: This drawing is actually seeing the skull from the angle behind the skull (looking at the area where the spine/neck connects.) If you look closely, you'll see the indications of the vertebrae and the various skull cavities seen from this angle. Not an easy view for anyone, let alone a Kindergardener.
Good observation work!

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Questions about this or other residencies?