Karl Goodere-Dale, Art and Design Subject Advisor
As autumn progresses, the leaves on the trees change colour from green to warm hues of red, orange, yellow, and even deep burgundy. When they fall to the ground, they create a wonderful, coloured carpet for us all to enjoy. This time of year provides captivating subject matter and a wealth of creative inspiration.
With the clocks recently being turned back, you have a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of autumn with your students. As an ex-art teacher, I’ve shared some ideas on how you can get the very best from this season’s magical transformation.
Outdoor sketching sessions: Autumn’s landscapes are ideal for outdoor sketching sessions. Take your students to a nearby park, forest, or even the school grounds to observe and sketch the changing leaves, trees, and the interplay of light and shadow. Encourage them to capture the vibrant colours and textures of the season in their sketchbooks.
Still life: Autumn brings an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and gourds. Create a still life setup in your classroom that features pumpkins, conkers, apples, colourful leaves, and other autumn treasures. This presents an excellent opportunity for your students to practice still life drawing and different painting techniques wrapped around a seasonal theme.
Exploring colour theory: Autumn’s palette of warm, earthy colours is a perfect way to introduce or reinforce colour theory with your students, especially at Key Stage 3. Teach them about complementary colours, analogous colour schemes, and the emotions associated with different colour combinations. Have them experiment with creating their own unique autumn-inspired colour palettes.
Texture and mixed media: Autumn provides a unique opportunity to explore texture in art. Encourage your students to collect fallen leaves, acorns, and other natural elements to incorporate into their work. Let them experiment with mixed media techniques, such as collage, to add depth and tactile elements to their creations.
Light and shadow: The angle of the sun changes in autumn, and long shadows create a dramatic interaction between light and dark. Photographers and artists often find inspiration in the quality of autumn’s light. Your class can merge autumnal light and deep shadow as an integral part of the four ideas above to great effect.
Art appreciation: Introduce students to famous artists who were inspired by the beauty of autumn. Show them works by renowned artists like Claude Monet, John Constable, Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Julie Mehretu, Olafur Eliasson, Andrew Wyeth, or Ansel Adams. Discuss the ways in which these artists paint the season in their own unique styles.
By embracing the artistic qualities of autumn, you can inspire your students to connect with nature, express themselves through their artwork, and appreciate the world around them.
This season, especially, offers a wealth of inspiration and a unique opportunity for your students to develop their skills and creativity. So, with your guidance let them dive into the world of nature’s artistry, and let your students explore these to their full potential in this season of colour and transformation.
Whilst this is a wonderful time of year visually, we know it can be a stressful time for teachers as you prepare for a shift in focus towards “Component 02 – Externally set task”. You may be looking forward to what ‘themes’ might be released and how your students will engage with them to produce their individual response.
For those of you who deliver A Level Art and Design, you might be currently more focused on the ‘Related study’ either starting or concluding this task before your “Component 02 – Externally set task” February release date. So it’s worth reading our previous A Level Art and Design blog written by our moderators about the task.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ArtDesign. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
Before joining OCR in September 2019, Karl taught creative subjects in both art and design technology for 12 years. With experience with a variety of roles in secondary schools, including as a head of department, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience in teaching creative subjects at GCSE, A Level and BTEC. He has also previously worked as one of our examiners.