In our art classes we often spend time talking about the master artists. Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Learning about their work and their lives is wonderful. But I also like to make connections whenever possible with current practicing artists.
Fifth graders were going to be working on a drawing using wildlife as the subject of their picture. Since they usually tend to want to do detailed drawings on a small scale I wanted them to try working “bigger” and to focus on one subject. Lucky for me I came across Jackson Hole artist
OK we were all sufficiently inspired and now the real work started. How to get them to work “BIG”
First we talked about contour drawing and spent one class period practicing sketching with continuous lines and focusing on shape. I gave students a limited amount of time (app 5 minutes) to complete a sketch with each student doing 3-5 sketches.
Here are a few of their pieces.
Now to begin the finished drawings. Like Amy Ringholtz, I encouraged the students to put expression in their animals eyes. So I had the them draw the eye of their animal on a small index card. This was a drawing technique I had seen used and it proved to really help with my goal of getting the kids to work big. We transfered the eye sketch from the index card to our drawing paper and since the eyes were so large it forced the students to complete the rest of the sketch on a larger scale. The rest of the sketch was completed quickly using the contour drawing skills we had practiced.
A limited palate of oil pastel was used to add color, shading and blending as they went. Watercolor was used for the background using a wash technique.
This project took a long time to complete. About 6 fourty minute periods, but we were able to hit on so many objectives that it was well worth it. And or course, most importantly the results are beautiful.
As a side note. During the process of completing their drawings a number of the kids were a little upset that their sketches were not turning out exactly as planned. “My coyote looks like a fox.” My hawk looks like a parrot.” We had a lot of discussions about not being to hard on yourself. Drawing well takes practice. The more you practice the better you get. And sometimes you need to embrace your mistakes. Sometimes your mistakes can be the best part of the whole process”