Cycle 1 Week 6- Chinese Kites

To complete the first six weeks of Cycle 1 we’ll be drawing Chinese kites.  The lesson plan touches on mirror-image drawing, one-point perspective, and abstract design.  That’s a lot, but I hope the kids feel confident in their knowledge and enjoy drawing their final piece.

Many historians believe that China is the birthplace of the kite, and the first recorded use of a kite was in China in 196 BC.  Kites have had many purposes: they were used to carry messages, to celebrate special occasions, and even as a tool in war!  Marco Polo is credited with bringing the first news of kites back to Europe after his travels through Asia in the thirteenth century.  There is such an interesting and unique history to explore! Continue Reading →

Cycle 1 Week 2- Greek Vases

The Foundations Guide suggests using Greek vases to practice mirror-image drawing, and whad’ya know!  That works perfectly for Cycle 1 and ancient civilizations.

We know that the Greeks used symmetry in architecture, and we can see this same love of order and balance in their art.  Most of their pottery was symmetrical in shape and was decorated with geometric designs, floral motifs, and scenes from life or mythology.  If possible, bring in several books on Greek art or civilization for students to look through as they complete their drawings.

This lesson focuses on mirror-image drawing using the vase outline, but also incorporates OiLS through adding geometric designs.  Each lesson plan includes a few examples of traditional Greek patterns, but the options are endless!   Continue Reading →

Cycle 1 Week 1- Egyptian Art

The new Foundations Guide came out this year, but you’ll notice that drawing for weeks 1-6 are the same as in the past. Since Cycle 1 looks at the history of ancient kingdoms, I will be combining the drawing concepts alongside art from ancient civilizations.

Week 1 starts out with the basic elements of drawing using the OiLS concept. We will use Egyptian symbols to practice studying what we see and copying that on our own paper. Remember, these are drawing lessons: the point is to learn to draw well, not necessarily express creativity. Once drawing skills are developed, students can more easily express their own thoughts because they have the skills to do so! It is okay to ask students to slow down, follow directions exactly, and even re-work their drawing to improve it. This will be so effective in the long run, and the students will see that the results are worth it.

Below you will find lesson plans with videos for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-11. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Happy drawing!

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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 →

Cycle 2 Week 17- Degas’ Dancers

As a girl I loved looking at Degas’ work.  I was enamored by the beautiful ballerinas in voluminous tutus practicing their movements .  It seemed effortlessly feminine.  Though most of his work focuses on the female form, he also did paintings of men and children in everyday life.  The overarching theme in his work is the human figure, and he was able to expertly capture the movement of the body.

Because I want to teach my students about Degas’ mastery of the human figure, I am straying completely from the Discovering Great Artists lessons.  Instead, this lesson will teach VERY basic figure drawing ideas.  Don’t worry, it’s simple! Continue Reading →

Cycle 2 Week 16- Mini Monets

This week we move into Impressionism.  When we think of Impressionism we think of Claude Monet.  And when we think of Claude Monet we think of water lilies, landscapes, and dabbled paint.  This is exactly what we want our students to think of as well.  Hopefully by the time this project is done, they will have a permanent impression of Monet’s work and will be able to recall the imagery and technique of his style.

Not only will they see his style, but they will know what it feels like to paint as he did… with one exception.  Monet usually painted outdoors.  Though the Discovering Great Artists lesson has students painting what they see outside, this is hard to do during winter.  Here it is cold and snowy, with very little color outside.  To compensate for this, my lesson has students copy parts of Monet’s work, then do a landscape from their own head using his dabbing technique. Continue Reading →

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