I recently just finished Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing. I have a lot of art books that I buy with the best intentions, but often, they collect dust on the bookshelf after a quick initial browse. I find this one a little different as it explores the fundamentals and meaning of drawing with 15 drawing activities that may interest students a bit more, as well as including work by some contemporary artists where you see the concepts in action. It’s not really a tutorial book but may help some to view drawing and expressing line and shape in a different light. Simply, the act of mark making instead of attempting to draw photo-realistically.
In the book, the authors recommend beginners avoid drawing symmetrical man-made objects as more often than not, students will fail to master the precise symmetry. I must say, as a teacher, I am guilty of giving my students bottles the second week of drawing class. I may now change this. One of my favourite activities offered was superimposed drawings (poor quality picture below). Students are to redraw the same subject five times seen from different points of view and superimpose/overlap each drawing. A lot of the activities should help students to get away from drawing with those small hair-like lines that they all start off with (and that drive me crazy) and begin to express themselves and their subject matter more.
As an experiment, I decided to try making a travel journal for my holiday in Thailand, as I may consider making this a new grade 7 art unit for my students. With it, there could be a lot of potential for mixing different mediums and styles and would result in a summative assessment visual journal for their one week field studies excursion. You can view the other pictures via Flickr here. Sorry, I am having a lot of difficulty with Edublogs and Paypal and am currently unable to embed.
Some of my grade 8 students are finishing off their last project where they were to design and create a character illustration personifying a font using Adobe Illustrator. We were running out of time so I decided to simply use the live trace and live paint options. We began the unit by looking at stereotypes, brainstorming ideas for the font and then making plans to develop the character. You can see the lesson plans here if interested. Feel free to look at the student creations via Flickr here. More will be added next week.
(pictured student work: Kei O.)
My grade 9 Art Foundation class just finished their unit on pastels, which covers charcoal, soft pastel and oil pastel in about 10 eighty minute lessons. For their summative piece, students were asked to implement various pastel techniques and methods into a landscape composition that they created from photographs from their field studies trip. You can view the week by week breakdown of what we did in class here. Photos are embedded below.
I just completed my first MYPGrade 6 unit on portrait drawing. I taught the unit last year but tweaked it due to the MYP programme requirements. I am really pleased with how it went. The MYP is based around an Area of Interaction, a Unit Question and a Significant Concept. My biggest challenge is the unit question and I spend a lot of time on it, as I try not to mention “art” so it can be transferred to other subjects.
The unit focuses on some basic drawing skills and is very technical. It then dawned on me to simply make it “How does observing help us learn?” since that’s what we really trying to achieve. The unit starts off discussing this and we refer to it again and again throughout the unit. I must admit that including this has improved the unit and had the students more engaged than previous years. You can view their work in the embedded slideshow below or go directly to the Flickr set here for faster access. I included the students’ pre-assessment drawings and their summative drawing at the end of the unit. What a difference!
(NOTE: As of Nov. 21, the set only contains one group out of three classes resulting in 30 photos. Once my colleague passes on his photos, I’ll upload them too.)
I am eager now to start the next one on portrait painting, which has the question “How do personal experiences shape our identity?”
As promised earlier, here are those student images I said I would post. Sara H. is a grade 10 student and her work here shows some of her progress. These were taken halfway through the unit and I am interested to see how she will further develop and progress. At first, students used marker to prevent them from wasting time on erasing whilst learning figure proportions and foreshortening. We then move onto charcoal and pastel as well. After each drawing, students are encouraged to reflect on their work and jot notes on goals, improvements etc.
I am busy but motivated this year. I find myself teaching just over 10 new units (out of 20), as teaching time for visual art at my school has doubled. With all the cutbacks to the arts I am reading about nowadays, I’m happy. Needless to say, I’m also swamped developing new units, implementing the MYP in grade 6, learning and co-teaching IGCSE (to eventually fade out?) & IBDP Art, as well as finding and creating resources for the new units and undergoing an accreditation at my school. But where else would I be able to have the flexibility, freedom and choice to develop my own units? That’s myelement.
Currently my grade 10s are studying foreshortening in figure drawing. As the classes generally progress, I find the gap widening between those that can and those that cannot. In order to assist, I created this basic tutorial for them at home. It’s difficult as it is the first time for most of them to attempt this. The video is not great, but I hope it helps as a reference. One thing I didn’t utilise in the video was using circles for the knees and elbows.
During class, we measure using markers instead of pencils and they usually have 10-15 minutes to tackle the proportions. We get them to use a yellow marker at first as it does not allow them to erase. They then go over their lines with a darker marker. If any of my students are reading this, let me know if the video helps.
I’ll also try to post some student work soon. You can also view the unit wiki here but it needs a slight update, as I have already changed/dumped some items.
I’m currently working on generating ideas for my doodle club here at school and remembered this fun activity by Carla Sonheim from her great book “Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun,” which I blogged on July 13th, 2010 (you can check the hyperlinks on that previous post). It’s a very fun activity suitable in the elementary classroom but could also fit in as a warm-up activity in Middle School. The steps are as follows:
1. Draw an eye anywhere on your paper. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
2. Draw a second different eye, several times larger than the first eye. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
3. Draw a nose or snout. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
4. Draw a leg or paw. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
5. Draw a tail. Turn your paper 90 degrees clockwise.
6. Connect the elements together with straight and curved lines.
7. Finish with markers or coloured pencils.
Here’s my digital example:
If you have any other fun ideas for doodling, feel free to let me know.
Don’t think you can draw? It doesn’t matter. The book offers seven inspiration units ranging from animals, people, famous artists, children, imagination, nature and books and culture. These units have 52 drawing activity labs in total.
In her words, “This book is designed to get you started drawing again, and excited about it!” It’s playful and sure to get you going and/or lead you in other directions. It’s not your traditional step-by-step or how-to-draw book.
Some of the activities are imaginary creatures, Picasso dogs, scribble drawings and traveloguing. Again, for those classroom teachers that find themselves having to teach art with no background training, this book may prove an invaluable resource. For others, it will get your creative juices flowing.I may also consider using this as the basis for my after-school club activity in the upcoming academic year.