The images you see are drawn by sixth graders after exploring her drawing methods in my class in 2009. I’ve read that the arts are not important in the grand scheme of things these days in public schools. I’ve also heard that on average, people give up drawing after the sixth grade. That is so sad.
I look at the beautiful work by these students and it haunts me that some people may think this is not a skill worth teaching. Look in the eyes of these portraits and I dare you not to see the intensity there. They are amazingly telling about the artist and the subject.
Repetition of shapes, lines and colors is one of the strongest organizing principles in art and it takes practice to see it and create it.
A simple and fun drawing exercise called Bad Hair Day on The Incredible Art Department website helps bring this concept into focus.
Fun, because everyone can relate to “bad hair day” and useful because it emphasizes the use of a repeated shape as a pattern. The “hair” is divided into at least five sections. Each section must have a different pattern in it.
This started out as a sub project, but my 5th and 6th grade students enjoyed it so much we continued the project over several says. Here are the results.
A wonderful website called artyfactory.com has a Pop Art lesson plan that produced some very colorful Mona Lisas from my 5th graders a few years back. They grid the drawing and copy it square by square, then paint each square with a different color, texture or tone. It always suprises me how the mind balks at drawing hands. Tough stuff, but such good practice at isolating shapes. I hope you have as much fun looking at them as we did making them. Here’s the lesson site.
I recently ran across this wonderful optical illusion lesson on Pinterest posted on Flying Shoes Art Studio, by Oklahoma artist Kristy Patterson. It is simple and has a great success rate with 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Great use of the art element line and a fun way to reinforce how line can create depth in your 2-D drawings.
Here’s a few results. What’s not to like about drawing Wormies!
My 5th grade art students recently studied Georges Seurat and pointillism. All credit for this project goes to a wonderful teacher and lesson on Miss Young’s Art Room blog. My 5th graders applied that knowledge in a pointillist drawing of desserts. I (like Miss Young) have found that it is far easier for students to visualize something they love! We worked from photos downloaded from Google taking care to make the photos smaller than the drawing size requested to reduce the temptation to trace. For more details on the project see my mini-mimio lesson video here.
You remember when drawing clowns was a good thing? I grew up in a time when Emmett Kelly and Red Skelton were still known and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey clowns were not scary. They were funny and sad at the same time. But not scary. I drew lots of clowns as a child.
Now, you say clown in a classroom and the entire room shudders and bursts into horrific descriptions of the clowns they know. So I substitute these scarecrows. For most fourth graders, scarecrows are still an innocent reminder of the farm, fall and the pumpkin patch. I have a wooden stand in my room where we build a life-size scarecrow some years, but most of the time I use a tabletop scarecrow I bought years ago as a model.
We draw BIG, we start in pencil, outline in sharpie, then crayon for the body and watercolor for the background. The watercolor is a relief at the end because it takes a LONG time to color large sheets of manila paper. Good conversations about color, geometric shaped patches and French fry fingers and feet are had. I hope the movie industry and the news media will leave scarecrows alone.