thINK DRAW CONNECT LEARN – Drawing Residency, Cygnet Primary, May 2014

“Bradfield came to Cygnet Primary much celebrated and recommended. Many of our students had been to his workshops in the past and when his name was mentioned were especially excited. The workshops explored line-making and observation. All the students were engaged by Bradfield’s guided drawing sessions and he lead them gently and respectfully through different ways to capture people and animals. They responded to his interest in them by trusting the process and focusing on drawing. We had a room of 56 students drawing quietly!

In the two half-day sessions, the teachers observed the students’ line-making become more careful, saw our students draw more, and begin to use different language when describing their artwork. For the two weeks my class chose to draw in shared reading time every day! Bradfield tuned their minds into the quiet place where drawing happens. He made students feel confident who rarely do academically, and challenged those who always think there is ‘a right way’. We would gladly have him in our school again!”

Heidi van Rijswijk, Grade 4 teacher

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In May this year I was invited to submit a proposal to the Cygnet Primary School P&F , to offer an artist-in-residence program for Grades 3 – 5.  I devised a 4-day Drawing Project using the thINK drawing processes & games that I’ve been developing in my teaching since last year, with the aim of encouraging more of a “drawing culture” within the school.

I was excited about this project for a number of reasons.  Cygnet PS is my local school, I’ve run various creative programs there over the years (percussion, drawing & ukulele), and many of the kids & teachers know me already, so I felt comfortable offering something a little different.  This was an opportunity to break away from my other cartooning programs (eg Creative Communication etc), and expand on the principles of the thINK Draw Connect Learn process, deconstructing drawing foundations within a cartooning context.  The aim was to provide all the Grades with building blocks for exploring their own creativity through line-making, and to think about how they think as they draw.


We looked at some essential abstract drawing elements based on the idea that all drawing consists of only two types of line – a straight or a curved.  Then we looked at how simple repetition of an element creates pattern & can also suggest 3D form.  Many lightbulbs going off in the room by this stage!  As I modeled the ideas on the board, the children took notes on paper, and were encouraged to experiment with the ideas in their own style.  Here are some examples:

Once the students got the hang of thinking about lines as a kind of alphabet of abstract symbols, we were able apply those elements to some subject matter that interested the class as a whole.  With the Grade 3s, we used the elements to draw animals and human facial expressions.

With the Grade 4 / 5 group, we extended into mythical creatures and human characters, including techniques for drawing hair, clothes etc.