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Lesson Plans

Sketching Exercise and Game!

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Larry Seiler (
Sun, 31 Oct 1999 19:49:44 -0600

As a working artist and teacher, I am very demanding on my students
starting at 6th grade on through the high school to learn the value of
sketching. Not to be confused with drawing, that is...the careful
rendering of what something looks like. I mix a bit of gesture, (what
something is doing), with contour...all drawn as though it were like a
songbird on a feeder that might disappear in 10 seconds or less. Not to
replace drawing and careful observation, pushes the envelope a bit
and causes the eye to capture the "spirit" or nature of the image with
suggestive marks quickly. Comparing it to a secretary's dictation, a type
of visual shorthand.

After letting students pour over about a half dozen of my own sketchbooks,
I set about six objects out from skulls, to various bottle types, an
antique flour sifter, etc., onto tables that seat four students at each

I have them stand behind their chairs pushed in...using Bic Black ink
medium ball point pens and typing paper. They rotate clockwise around
their particular table and object four times, revealing four views of the
same object. Then all rotate clockwise to a new table to rotate four times
at that table with a new object, and so on. The first table I give them 30
seconds to sketch. The next table 25 seconds, and so on until their last
group of sketches are 10 seconds.

It is amazing after rotating a number of times that pretty soon their
panic settles into focus, and soon 20 seconds almost seems like too much

When we finish this exercise...we go into a little sketching game I
invented. I divide the room into two teams, and one individual from each
team goes out into the hallway out of view.

I point at an object in the room and decide on its difficulty. They get 10
seconds, 7 seconds or 5 seconds to sketch. Then, they put their pens
down...and turn their sketches over and their teammates come in. I
position them with backs turned toward their teams...and instruct their
teammates to turn their drawings over and sit on their hands.. (so that no
one is tempted to cheat by pointing). I explain that in the same way the
art must speak for itself without the presence of the artist in a
museum...they must not talk at all, letting their sketch alone do the

The first one of the two standing competitors that can tell what the object
is by their teammate's sketches and point that object out in the room wins
a point for their team, and the game continues.

My kids have been having a blast with this game...and finally, they are
learning to see sketching as the tool for the artist it is meant to be
understood to be.

Larry Seiler
WetCanvas Artists page-