SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Early Childhood Studio Lesson Drawing SecretS Michelle Savran W hen I was in elementary school, I used to trace objects in the air with my finger. I would trace the sides of buildings, trees, people, and anything else around me. This is something I've always naturally done, but was never taught. In fact, I believe that "air tracing" in my free time, in conjunction with drawing a lot, is what helped me become an expert at drawing. To introduce my observational drawing unit to my first-grade students, I read aloud the book Georgia's Bones by Jen Bryant (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2010), which is about Georgia O'Keeffe. I focus on the part that recounts how Georgia liked to collect and draw leaves and flowers when she was a child, and I ask students if they like to do that, too. Then we discuss how Georgia liked shapes and spaces, and I tell students that I brought in leaves and sticks for them to draw. Next, I demonstrate observational contour line drawing. 1. Close one eye and air trace the still life. (Students watch me and then are asked to try.) 2. Start drawing and pretend your pencil is touching the outline of the object, but from the paper. 3. Continuously look up and down from your still life to the paper. 4. Your pencil must follow your eye. 5. Draw very slowly. 6. Presshardwithyour pencil for things that are dark, and use less pressure in lighter areas. 7. Work silently; artists can't draw and talk at the same time. 8. Practice,practice,practice! When I'm done with my drawing, we review the drawing secrets once more before students begin draw independently. Getting in on the Secret Students watch me draw a small twig with leaves while I talk them through my process, which includes explaining the following "drawing secrets": Success and Obstacles Most students faithfully follow the drawing secrets, which results in amazing drawings. Some students are so doubtful of their drawing abil- 22 May/June 2013 SchoolArts ity, however, that they give up before they even get started. Although this happens to a small percentage of students, it's an obstacle that I have yet to overcome as a teacher. By the time I encourage them to at least try, they already feel too far behind their classmates. For the students who have more success, I don't see many "symbolic" drawings of leaves. Most students authentically draw what they see in front of them.

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