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Lesson Plans


Re: drawing suggestions

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Mark Alexander (mamjam)
Tue, 26 Aug 1997 08:19:02 -0500

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Judie J,

As you probably know, I teach elementary. However, to teach drawing in an
AP Studio Class I'd want to develop and expand skills most of them probably
have already tried. Practice, practice, then more practice.

For a great improvement, remove the chairs and have them stand at easels to
draw. Their freedom of movement will show in their drawiings, and they'll
be able to get a bit further back to actually see their whole drawing.
Working at a desk, the drawer is too close to the drawing to see it very
well. If you don't have easels, just standing up at the tables works better
than sitting. Large paper is essential. Large pads of newsprint work well,
although I suggest you offer them large quality paper with texture on
occasion, just so they appreciate the difference.

I would do a lot of gesture drawing with them, even if it's just as a warm
up exercise each day. With the gestures, have them try to draw AROUND and
THROUGH the figure, even the parts they can't see. Also, the gesture
drawing needs to define the absolute top and bottom of the figure right
away, or the rest of the drawing will FLOAT and won't look natural. Gesture
drawing will give them an understanding of volume and weight, and help them
develop grace in their drawings. Just as a short note here, I make a light
gesture drawing as a preliminary step to most of my personal drawings, even
if I don't actually put the pencil to the surface. It helps map out the
action, the feel, and the emotion of the figure. Look at Henry Moore's
sheep sketchbook, or Giocometti's drawings, all available in any good art
library.

In another direction, I suggest exercises designed to improve observation
skills. One good way to do this is by drawing a complicated still life. As
well as sticks and floral arrangements, I suggest objects such as bicycles
- things that require concentrated study to make them look right. Have them
maintain one point of view and take repeated visual measure of
relationships they see. Hold up the pencil at arms length, and compare
angles, lengths, widths, etc, using the edge of the paper as a constant
vertical reference. Have them think of the spaces between objects as having
size and shape, just like the objects themselves. Refer to Betty Edwards'
DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN for good exercises in this
direction.

After discussing tone and value, I'd emphasize that they aren't seeing
objects, but they are seeing the light reflecting off objects. Do some
dramatic light drawings. Try ADDITIVE drawing (let the paper stay light to
represent the highlights and draw the shadows and middle tones dark),
SUBTRACTIVE drawing (first make the whole paper dark with vine charcoal
then erase the middle tones and highlights with a kneaded eraser), and
MID-TONED PAPER drawing (put a watercolor wash on the whole paper in a
middle tone, then when it has dried, draw the shadows with dark conte and
the highlights with white conte. I enjoy the warm - cool contrasts and also
the complementary color contrasts possible with this technique)

I think a good variety of materials and subject will help keep their
interest. However, there are infinite possibilities with basic vine
charcoal, pencils, and the basic subject of the figure. Master these and
you'll be able to draw anything with any material. Practice, practice, then
more practice.

There are two great books I would reccomend, in addition to those I've
mentioned above, but they are at school and I can only paraphrase their
titles now. (I have a great memory, it just doesn't last very long) They
are Nicholaides THE NATURAL WAY TO DRAW, and Bernard Chaet's DRAWING. I'll
send more detailed information later if you want.

I hope this helps.

Mark Alexander
1-8 Art on the Cart
Lee H. Kellogg School
Falls Village, Connecticut

At 11:28 AM 8/24/97, JUDIEJ48 wrote:
>MARK, PERHAPS YOU COULD SHARE SOME OF YOUR DRAWING EXPERTISE WITH ME. I AM
>TEACHING DRAWING, PAINTING AND SCULPTURE IN GRADES 10 THROUGH 12. IN MY
>INTRO DRAWING CLASSES, I GO OVER TONE AND VALUE, LINE QUALITY AND COVER AREAS
>LIKE STILL LIFE, LANDSCAPE, PORTRAITURE, AND SIMPLE PERSPECTIVE (ONE AND TWO
>POINT). I FEEL OK WITH THAT, THE AREA I AM EXPERIENCING SOME ANXIETY IS AN
>ADVANCED PLACEMENT STUDIO CLASS THAT IS ABOUT 1/3 DRAWING SKILLS.
>
>I NEED SOME TIPS ON REALLY SINKING INTO SOME DYNAMIC, STRONG DRAWING
>PROJECTS--GOT ANY ADVICE FOR ME?
>
>MANY THANKS.
>
>JUDIE J


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