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 →
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.
For week three students will be doing an upside-down drawing. The concept is about training our brains to see the image solely as a group of lines and shapes. It also relates back to OiLs and the ability to describe and duplicate lines.
It is so, so, SO important to teach students to look at the object in front of them as they draw, and to study the lines that create that object. People tend to draw the object they see in their mind rather than what they see in front of them. For example, if asked to draw an apple on a table, many people would look at the apple once, then keep their head down and draw what they think a typical apple would look like. We want students to constantly look back at the object and draw the nuances of the lines and curves- simply as a series of lines and curves, not an apple.
The lesson below relates to geography for the week. The Book of Kells is a medieval illuminated manuscript created by monks in Ireland around 800 AD. It is a great way to connect art to history to geography. Continue Reading →
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