Cycle 3 Week 13- Grandma Moses

Starting out the “Great Artists” this year we have Grandma Moses. Her work is considered folk art, meaning her art pieces reflect her community, culture, and the everyday things around her. She was not a formally trained artist, and amazingly did not even begin painting until her late seventies. In her paintings we see the quirky nature of her self-taught art: the flattened buildings, the funky use of perspective, and the robustly busy scenes. They are charming and endearing, and your students will love to create their own scene as well.

Though the lesson is primarily about Grandma Moses and folk art, this plan will also focus on learning the terms “foreground”, “middleground”, and “background”. It’s always nice to throw in some extra art terms and use these projects to practice specific techniques. Continue reading

Cycle 3 Week 6- The White House (final drawing)

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

Cycle 3 Week 3- Statue of Liberty (upside down drawing)

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.

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Cycle 3 Introduction

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!

Cycle 2 Week 18- Morisot and Playful Paint

This project is almost as fun as finger-painting!  Kids get to add items to the paint, creating unique and interesting textures.  Though our artist for the week, Berthe Morisot, didn’t paint with such unusual items, we will still incorporate her work into the project and connect her to the lesson.

In the lesson plan I have included simple drawings of some of her paintings.  The students will use the textured paint to fill in the pictures.  Because the paint is so thick, it is best to do this project in the beginning of the day so it has lots of time to dry. Continue reading