Overview of My Leadership Project

For my Arts award leadership project, I ran a drawing club as an extra curricular activity for students. In this article, I give an overview of the project and evaluate the success of the club as to whether it improved my confidence as intended.

As part of my Artsmark Gold award I ran a leadership project to develop my confidence. I chose to do this because I felt that confidence was an important skill I will need in the future. I planned to monitor my confidence over the course of the club to see whether my leadership project was successful. The leadership project I decided to run was a drawing club for students as an extra curricular activity. I did this for many reasons. Firstly, I felt that teaching students in an after school club was a good way to improve my confidence skills. I also felt that this club would be a good way for students to express themselves but also to unwind from school. As drawing is a strength of mine, I felt it could be helpful to share my passion with younger students and, especially since my Arts award was in developing these artistic skills already, I thought it would be good to share what I have learnt with others. It also meant that as this was a subject I was passionate about and fairly confident with, my confidence could improve by teaching others as I was confident in my own ability. It was also something I would have liked to have attended when I was younger, so I thought it would be useful to run this for students with similar interests. 

In order to run this club, I devised a risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. I also ensured that everyone interested in the club was aware of the dates, times and location of the club, (including parents/carers) which can be seen on the poster I designed to advertise the club. I planned for the students to draw their own pictures of cartoon characters or characters in a cartoon style by using skills I would teach them in the sessions. Then they could experiment with different mediums of colour, leaving them with a finished project of a complete coloured drawing.

The club lasted over a series of weeks for one hour after school. It was arranged with the school’s art department to use the classrooms and the resources that were required. There were about 4-5 students that attended the club, which allowed me to spend more time working with the students individually to help enhance their skills and provide assistance. The students were aged 11-13, which was an ideal age group as it meant they already had some skills in terms of art/drawing, but by coming to the club they wanted to improve their skills.

In the first session of the club, I began with a drawing tutorial on how to draw Mickey Mouse, as he is a relatively simple character to start with because of his basic shapes and proportions. The idea of this exercise was to not only see what the participants’ drawing ability looked like before the club, but also so they could learn some new techniques that they could then incorporate in their own artwork. I guided the students through the stages of drawing Mickey step-by-step and taught them a few tips along the way, such as shading techniques and the importance of accurate proportions. Once we had completed that exercise, we could then move onto the main project. It was really great to build a rapport with the students based off of love of art and drawing. It was also nice to see the drawings that they had worked on previously and being able to share my own artwork with them. Some of them also asked me to critique some of their previous work, which in turn improved my confidence in leading as I was able to provide honest yet empathetic advice. I gave the students an overview of what we would be covering over the course of the club and showed them a template of the finished product I had created as an example before the club. We then chose the cartoon characters that the students wanted to draw - it was important to find something that would give the students a challenge, but would also allow them to use the skills that they learnt in the club.

The students then began to start constructing their cartoon characters, ranging from manga to animals, with another branching out by making stranger things fan art. Later in the club, one of the students even decided to try and draw free-hand without a template, once they were a bit more confident. Each of the students began constructing their characters using basic shapes and construction lines to ensure their proportions were accurate. One of the students in particular was a little less confident with this, so I provided her with some encouragement and started her off by drawing the image alongside her using the skills I had taught previously so she could follow along and have a one-to-one tutorial. Once I had guided her through the main shapes and added a few details though, she was well on her way and it was great to see the students developing their confidence in their own abilities. I provided them all with some tips too, as some mentioned it was a bit daunting starting with a blank canvas. The participants were quite inquisitive, which allowed me to share my knowledge and experiences with them, simultaneously improving my confidence.

After the students had finalised their drawings by darkening the lines and cleaning up their artwork, the students were ready to add colour to their drawings. It was important for the students to experiment with different mediums of colour and discover which mediums would suit each drawing. This way, I could also assist them by utilising what I had learnt from Unit One in my Arts award (the effect of different mediums of colour in drawings) and give the students advice on what technique/medium would be the best to use. I provided a range of colouring materials and gave them paper to use as a colour palette, so they could experiment and see what their preferred medium of colour was and what would look good on their drawings. The participants of the club really enjoyed testing out the different mediums. One of the students wanted to use watercolour paints, however she wasn’t very confident in using them, so I helped show her how much water to use and how to blend some of the colours. Other students used colouring pencils and felt tips, or on one occasion a blend of both, to make certain features of their character stand out. It was amazing to see the collaboration between the students as well - despite being strangers at the beginning of the club, by the end of the club there was a lot of co-operation and discussion about art between the students. Hence, not only did my own confidence develop throughout the club, but I could see that the students’ confidence in their skills also improved.

Unfortunately not all of the students finished their projects in time, as it took a little longer than expected for the students to find their footing with their drawings. However, it was impressive to see them flourish and work hard on their drawings; you can see that a lot of time and effort was invested in the artwork. Most importantly, the students were really pleased with the work that they had produced, some even commenting that they were “amazed that they had produced this piece of artwork”. I also provided the participants with personalised feedback on their artwork, which I feel is important, so that they know how they can improve in the future.

The students were disappointed to see the club end, but their feedback was very positive and they commented that they would “definitely carry on coming to the club or go to a similar club like this in the future”. The students said that they enjoyed having a space to be creative and the chance to experiment, and found the club really useful in learning, getting tips, critique and enhancing their skills. A peer also mentioned to me that they could see that my confidence had really improved with each session and it seemed much more natural when I was teaching. The fact that the students came back every week not only showed a dedication on their part, but also proved they enjoyed the club, boosting my confidence. 

Overall, it was clear from the feedback that the club was definitely a success. I definitely feel more confident in myself and feel that I contributed something to younger artists. Although their final pieces weren't fully completed, I was really impressed with their work and feel it was really enriching for them. I could really see how their skills had developed since the beginning of the club! I enjoyed teaching the younger students and think this was an invaluable experience.

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Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston

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