Art Together is a feature by Ryan Trott that showcases artists who work with children (in or out of the classroom), sharing their process and experiences.
Artist/educator Lucy Dellar finds inspiration in simplicity and repetition. Born in Melbourne, Australia and currently based out of Montreal, her work is varied and evolving— minimalist photos, folk-inspired paintings, graphic collage and more. Her recent zine compiles found optical illusions, showcasing her geometric eye and affinity for collecting children’s books and educational materials. Lucy went above and beyond in answering my questions, representing her growing interest in making connections between her own art and her work with students.
RT: In what kind of environments have you facilitated art making with young people?
LD: I’ve been super lucky and have taught in both a school and community setting! I first taught art to kids when shadowing a grade five teacher two days a week. This was part of an internship program through my University; I would assist her during math, science, english, etc., then I would run the art period. Initially it was scary, though I quickly bonded with the students, making it a fun time! My final lesson plan was probably the most memorable; we all made Amazon Jungle shoebox dioramas.
For a year I taught at a great community center in Montreal for a couple of hours every Saturday. The children I worked with were a mix of girls and boys between the ages of 5-12, which at times made it challenging when creating a lesson plan, although we would often break them into two groups. I really love the spirit of community classes; they were far more relaxed and playful.
RT: What are your teaching preferences (age/in or out of school/ etc.)?
LD: I love community! It allowed me to play and interact without the authoritative connotation associated to being a schoolteacher. Working with such a broad age group (5-12) gave me a good idea of how their skill set and ideas varied, and in both I found qualities that I love. With the younger ones it was magic to witness them discover new techniques, such as mixing colours, while the 10-12 year olds would want assistance in more complex areas such as perspective and realism.
I’ve always been curious about the Montessori school system and love the idea of children guiding their education based on personal desires and interests. It would be particularly interesting to work with a young group during this time.
RT: What do you find interesting about the way children make art?
LD: I love seeing their ideas and words transform into something visual, especially after story telling, it’s such a wonderful insight into their world. Younger children tend to focus on the process as opposed to the final outcome, which results in such pure art, perhaps my favorite kind!
It is fascinating to witness the difference in artistic growth depending on the age of the child. After studying child art and the different developmental stages, it’s wonderful to witness moments of excitement and discovery. Overall, I just love seeing them have fun and not putting pressure on themselves to create something ‘good’, that’s when you see the most pure rewarding art for both the child and art educator.
RT: What effect has teaching art had on your own personal artistic practice?
LD: It’s funny, I started making art (drawing, painting, sculpture & video) the same year I started teaching art to children, it sounds problematic but was actually perfect for the age level I had. My main focus had always been photography, which I would do in my spare time, and maybe some collage here and there but never other mediums. My work is usually neat, but not perfect, and tends to be quite simple.
It’s pretty cool to see the parallels between the children’s work and my own, I learnt just as much from them as they did from me. While teaching at the community center earlier this year, there was one participant’s work that I adored so much, I recreated a pastel drawing of his into a painting, including his name, which took up about 1/3 of the page. There have been many occasions where I have drawn reference from the work produced by the children I have worked with.
Aside from child artwork, other sources of inspiration are child objects, spaces and design. I am currently making an educational video for children that showcase the design elements and principles. My main source of inspiration are educational videos and videos made by children during the 60’s and 70’s. Needless to say, young people inspire almost all of my work, or old people who make art that looks like a young person made it.