The kids have to start in a corner or in the center and do a small shape
(visualize an arc in a corner). Within this shape they have to create some
sort of pattern (such as a checkerboard idea). After finishing that, they
start another small design that touches the first one, and fill in a
pattern. Everything has to touch whatever came before it, so the whole
thing sort of grows across the paper.
After a few times of this (checkerboard, small dots, polka dots, hatching,
cross-hatching) tell them to look at the edges of the negative space to see
what the shapes suggest. They might see a mountain, a bird, a
profile--whatever. They then draw that small picture. Whatever comes
next--even if it's, again, a textured pattern--is touching the part that
This is something they SHOULDN'T finish in a class period--not if they're
working fairly small and including lots of visual texture. It's a good way
to introduce the concepts of line, texture, contrast, positive/negative
space, etc. as well as a way to get them to slow down and make constructive
use of otherwise idle time.
One girl today said she couldn't think of anything else to draw (what to
draw next) and I told her to turn the paper around--that there didn't have
to have a definite up and down to it, and that she didn't really need to
"think." When she did that, she "saw" an outline of a tree in the negative
space and was off on it again.
The kids have LOVED this and they've begged me to let them take it to their
classes to work on when they're bored during lectures (not a chance!)
Another kid called me over today and said he kept seeing pigs in the
negative spaces--so he drew them--in and around all of the other
geometric/organic shapes and designs.
These are turning out exceptionally well and I plan to mount them on black
construction paper and display them. It's high-level "doodling" but I'm
learning a lot about my kids--not only about their drawing skills, but about
their interests and what they "see."
If you don't have ultrafine sharpies I gues you could use regular fine tip
colored markers, but the black and white designs are really quite
impressive. If I can find the disk with a scanned version, I'd be happy to
send you a picture.
My next problem is going to be making them put these away so we can start on
the next major project!!