Drawing Projects for the Primary Grades
- Help children to see art as a process such as creating a piece of writing or practicing music. Assist them in understanding that much practice work goes in before a final drawing is ready to show off. (See Reference 1.) Provide children with a blank sketchpad and art pencils. Offer plenty of time for careful observation and sketching of everyday objects. Assist children in observing the outlines of objects by calling attention to the shape of the object's outline. If children wish to, have them finish a formal drawing of some of the sketches. Stress that the careful observation and practice are much more important than finishing a formal drawing of any of the objects observed.
Using a Viewfinder
- A viewfinder is similar to a frame. Make one by cutting a small rectangle into the middle of a 5-inch by 7-inch piece of cardboard. Have students use the viewfinder to frame the object being observed and mask out background objects. This helps students during observations to concentrate on the desired object only and create a pleasing composition. Students hold the cardboard up and look through it, observing the arrangement of the object they will draw in the frame. This helps them decide how to place the object on the paper and to observe detail.
Shading for Depth
- Shading the darker areas of an object make it appear three-dimensional by giving it the illusion of depth. Have students practice shading by creating a strip of paper on which they draw at least six different tones with a pencil. Have students start at one end with the darkest that the pencil draws and create stripes along the paper, getting lighter with each stripe. By the opposite end, the stripe should appear almost white. After shading practice and several practices observing and sketching the outlines or contour lines of different objects, have students choose an object on which to practice shading. Ask students to observe where the light makes an object its lightest and where shadow creates dark areas. Students then draw the contour drawing after which they shade in the object with pencil to create depth.
- Once children have practiced recreating the contour outline of real objects by observing carefully, have them create gesture or action drawings of people or animals. The contour drawing practice helps them to realize that objects have shape but some also have movement. Have one child pose for the class in an action position such as running or jumping. Explain to students that this type of drawing is faster than contour observations. Instruct them to quickly make lines that suggest the form of the model in action. Reassure that the object is not a masterpiece but to capture the lines made when drawing a figure in action. Every few minutes, have the model strike a new action pose and instruct students to begin a new drawing. If several small drawings of the model are made on one large piece of paper, afterwards students can observe how different actions require drawing different lines to capture the model.