Cycle 1 Week 5- Japanese Pagoda

This week students will practice the concept of one-point perspective drawing.  This is hard to fit into our unit on ancient art because early civilizations tended to create flattened  images with little to no depth.  In fact, the use of perspective in painting wasn’t seen until the 15th century in Italy.  But, of course, ideas travel…

The first use of mathematical perspective in Japanese art can easily be seen in woodblock prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige in the 1800s.  They use very strong, clean lines that create dynamic depth and perspective.  You can use the following images to show your students an early Japanese painting with some depth but no one-point perspective, and the later prints that do have one-point perspective.  (I often put images in a Powerpoint presentation and use my laptop to present images in class rather than printing them all out)

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Cycle 1 Week 4- African Masks

Though the arts and ethnic groups of Africa are vast, one common trait is the making of masks.  Even within this commonality, African masks can land on a broad spectrum from representational to completely abstract.  In this lesson we will look at abstracted masks from the regions of Ancient Mali and Ghana (week 14 history sentence and geography) as well as other cultures surrounding those areas.  Even though we will study and gain inspiration from their designs, students are in no way expected to copy them.

What we do want students to learn from this lesson:

  • What the term “abstract” means
  • How to create an emphasis in an abstract deisgn
  • How to gain inspiration from other work, but change it to make it our own

I hope you and your students enjoy the lesson!

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Cycle 1 Week 3- Mayan Glyphs

Just like the ancient Egyptians, the Maya had a written language that was based on symbols and pictures.  The images used in their writing are complex and in fact required artists to accomplish them.  In this way, scribes always had to be artists, and their word for “scribe” reflected this: t’zib means both artist and scribe!  (This makes me think of modern-day calligraphy: the melding of written language and art).

For this week’s upside-down drawing, I used the Mayan symbol for chocolate.  This article and fabulous video talk about the Mayan language, and also decode the glyph for “chocolate”.  It’s super fun and interesting! 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 2 Week 14- Botanical Drawings

I love this project.  It combines drawing with science and math.  It teaches students to carefully study what they see.  It allows us to emphasize size and proportion in drawing.  Kids will always love to doodle and draw imaginative ideas, and teaching traditional drawing techniques in no way inhibits this.  In fact, teaching realistic drawing will give them the skills to better draw what’s in their head.

This botanical drawing is based off the work of Carl Linnaeus, famous artist, botanist, physician, and zoologist.  He carefully studied plants and recorded his findings through illustrations.  They are beautiful examples of science and art.   Continue Reading →

Cycle 2 Week 5- Cities in Perspective

Cityscapes are a wonderful way to use perspective drawing techniques.  Luckily, the geography for this week is European Cities, a perfect jumping off point for drawing buildings in perspective.

The drawings this week are inspired by vintage travel posters.  They always have a dynamic sense of depth due to…. you guessed it, perspective!  These are the posters that inspired this week’s projects.

travel posters

Perspective can be a challenge.  Students have to use rulers, line up points, and do all sorts of stuff that is hard for them.  Just remember, it is not about what the final drawing looks like.  It is about students learning the ideas.  Even if it doesn’t look great, they are practicing challenging subject matter and gaining understanding.  That’s the important stuff!

Below you’ll find lesson plans for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-11. Continue Reading →

Cycle 2 Week 1- Rainforest Drawings

The first week of CC is almost here.  Woo hoo! (Or maybe, “Aagghhhh!”)  Here is a drawing lesson that incorporates some science from week one along with the OiLs drawing techniques.  Below you will find three separate lessons (one for each age group) but all with the same theme.  The age group is a suggestion, so use the lesson that you feel is best for your class. Continue Reading →