My family and I took a road trip a few years back, following part of the route that Lewis and Clark took to the Pacific Ocean. We listened to the book Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark, visited the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, and relaxed in the beauty of the Oregon coast. I didn’t know much about their journey before this, but was quickly amazed by what they and their companions encountered and experienced.
One thing that stuck with me was the breadth of skill and knowledge that Lewis and Clark needed to lead such a unique mission. They had to know about medicine, botany, astronomy, zoology, geography… and drawing! In journals they described and sketched many animals they saw during the trip. Some animals written about were squirrels (their dog Seaman caught them, and they fried them up for food), pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs (other names they came up with were “ground rat” and “burrowing squirrel”), and the jackrabbit to name a few.
The lessons below focus on drawing North American animals that the explorers would have come across in their travels. Just like Lewis and Clark, our students will practice honing their observation and drawing skills among the many other subject matter they know.
For the final drawing I usually don’t try and include all the concepts from the previous five weeks, but this year I gave it a go. In order to pound those pegs in a little deeper, this project will touch on mirror-image drawing, perspective, shading, and, just by its nature of being a drawing, OiLs. (It also includes an American flag as in week four’s abstract art. Kind of a stretch, I know.)
Hopefully the kids are excited when they discover how much about drawing they already know. If your students get the concepts, you can give them verbal directions only or write the steps on the board and let them work at their own pace. They’ll love the autonomy of figuring it out on their own! Continue Reading →
This was my first week back to CC and, boy, am I feeling it. Maybe also because my husband has been gone for a week, I’m planning my daughter’s fifth birthday party, and I have four loads of laundry staring at me. Whatever the reason, I’m a little tired and I’m going to blame that for the badly-proportioned Washington Monuments in my video lessons. So, please adjust your drawings in class accordingly. Or if yours ends up being off too, just blame me.
We will practice shading in this lesson just like the Liberty Bell project from week two. Repetition of the concept can help it stick in our student’s brains, and help them see how it can be used in multiple ways. This week it will be used on the geometric forms of the Washington Monument, and next week we’ll find ways to use it in our final drawing. Continue Reading →
Since we are studying American artists later this year during the “Great Artists”, I wanted to incorporate some famous American abstract artists into this lesson as well. I’ve included examples of paintings by Calder, Rothko, and Johns.
Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) created a painting called “Flag”, which, simply, is of the American flag. This is a great example of how confusing abstract art can be. As one of his critics said “Is this a flag or a painting?”. Exactly.
Even though abstract art can be hard to understand, we can still have great conversations about the elements used and how they make us feel. Talking about the lines, shapes, and colors helps us appreciate the beauty and depth of the artwork. To begin this lesson, show images of abstract art (I have included a PowerPoint of images I thought helpful) and have a discussion about them. Include “Flag” by Jasper Johns as a segue to our final drawing.
We will be using elements from the American flag as we design our abstract work. And in addition to using the elements, we want to use the principles of design. This project will focus on repetition and balance in particular.
When I practiced this lesson with my own kids, it made me laugh because they begged for me to to turn the image right-side up for them to draw it. Something about an upside-down drawing drives kids nuts. Its hard to shut off the part of the brain that wants to see an image and to just let the lines be lines. I tried to explain to my kids the whole point of the exercise. As we draw, we need to simplify everything to OiLS (remember week 1?) and not even think about the subject matter. Upside-down drawings train us to do just that. Unfortunately, my kids didn’t care about the reasoning, and we even had to deal with some tears before the drawing was finished. Art is hard, people.
I chose the Statue of Liberty because of the loose, imperfect drape of her robes. I tried to create a drawing that appears almost abstract, only becoming recognizable towards the top when adding the head and arm. Hopefully this encourages students to focus on the lines and not the subject matter. Even if they do recognize it as they draw, the point of the exercise remains the same- study what you see. Don’t draw the Statue of Liberty from inside your head, draw the upside-down one you see in front of you.
My dad is a huge early American history enthusiast, so I am extra excited to study this year’s curriculum. The next five lessons include symbols and landmarks of the United States, and we’ll start off with the Liberty Bell. Originally named the State House bell, this iconic piece hung in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now called Independence Hall. Inscribed on the bell are the words “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” Wonderfully, these words are from Leviticus 25:10, and have been a symbolic statement of freedom for our nation throughout our history.
We will be using the Liberty Bell to practice a mirror-image drawing. Below you will find lesson plans and video tutorials for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-11. These age groupings are general, so please use the lesson best suited for your students. Continue Reading →
Welcome back! I hope you are excited and encouraged to start the new school year!
As we go through the next six weeks, I will be using the phrase “let’s study what we see”. As tutors, we want this to become part of our art vocabulary, and, most importantly, we want to equip our student’s parents with the phrase so they can use it at home as they teach their children how to draw.
When we draw, we must look. I believe that looking is actually the primary skill in drawing, not the act of putting pencil to paper (and this is actually encouraging- if you can see, you can draw!). How do we hone the skill of drawing? By studying what we see before we even touch pencil to paper.
So let’s unpack our previous phrase a little bit- “Let’s study what we see”: “Let’s”- As parents we can help by looking with our children and asking questions as they draw. Think of yourself as a guide. There’s no need to draw for them, even when they ask for help. Simply ask questions that point them back to the object as they draw. “Study”- to carefully examine and analyze. Studying is not a quick look. It is an extended, careful examination of what’s in front of us. We teach our kids to carefully examine the material and concepts set before them, and this applies to art perfectly. “See”- Yep, you must actually look at the object. A lot. Students want to skip this step. Don’t let them.
In addition to teaching drawing skills, most lessons over the next six weeks will connect with U.S. landmarks. Next week’s lesson will be a simple still life, and from there we will jump into drawing things such as the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty, and the White House. Stay tuned for Cycle 3 Lesson 1 coming soon!
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