I also have had good experiences teaching contour drawing to younger
students (even 3rd) - I think keeping the drawings to just a few minutes
each and not too many in one sitting is key here. They are our warm-up
exercises. We transition to a drawing done without the "blinder" - often
with water-soluble pencils... Those few minutes spent concentrating on the
contours really improve these drawings.
Mary in Northern MN
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] 6th grade art
> I do blind and modified contour drawings with my 6th graders every year,
> and I have had a lot of success with it. It's the cornerstone of a lot
> of what I teach them afterwards. I tell them we're going to "PRETEND"
> (I say it in a very corny, Barney-type way) which they think is kind of
> funny - I tell them we are going to PRETEND there's an ant - and this
> ant is VERY slow, and cannot fly or jump. It also can only walk on
> EDGES of something (and we talk about what edges/contours are - focusing
> on how they're NOT the exact same thing as "outlines", since outlines
> mostly don't exist in the real world).
> We also get into the "right/left brain" stuff, which I find really
> useful in helping them think in a new way (I think they enjoy the notion
> of "tricking" their "bossy, know-it-all" left brain into "butting out
> for a bit"). I emphasize how everything has an infinite number of sets
> of contours, depending on how you view the object, and tell them how
> important it is to keep both the object they're drawing and their head
> still while doing the exercise.
> I do have pencils with a piece of card stock attached, but I tell them
> that's just a reminder, since I know they're all smart enough to figure
> out how to look under it. It's just there if they accidentally look back
> at their paper. Then, I have them tape their paper to the table,
> position their pencil on it, then turn on their chair in the direct
> opposite direction to where their paper is to look at the thing they're
> going to draw (they draw first their hand holding a pair of scissors,
> then their hand holding a small plastic animal).
> I tell them to put their "ant" down on an edge, and that their pencil
> and eye can ONLY go where the ant goes - if the ant gets to a "dead
> end" contour, it can't jump or fly to another one - it has to go back
> the way it came to get to a new "road". I give them 4 minutes the
> first time out - and I tell them they're not allowed to stop until the
> timer rings. After the first blind contour, as soon as they look at the
> drawings, they're all laughing and enjoying how "crazy" they look! I
> tell them it's not really a drawing of a hand with scissors, but
> instead it's a record of the journey of the ant! Then they do a second
> blind contour (which goes a bit longer), and after that, a modified
> contour, in which they're allowed to look at their paper, but only for
> 2 seconds at a time; all the other rules are the same.
> Sorry this is so long, but I do think this is a really important piece
> of the puzzle for them at this age - they so want to know how to "make
> things look right", and after two blind contour drawings, they are
> nearly all impressed with how their modifed contour drawing turns out -
> much more realistic than they thought they could do! Here are a couple
> of projects my 6th grade students do after having done this exercise - I
> really do build on those contour skills:
> http://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?exhibit=214015 ,
> http://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?exhibit=223919 ,
> http://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?exhibit=249904 > Good luck!
> -Lydia in Toledo
> Toledo School for the Arts