From Linda: Basically, I show them images of cities painted by artists and illustrators. We discuss various techniques artists have to show distance, we discuss variations in style from artist to artist, as well as different points of view, building shapes, ways of overlapping, patterns, colors, etc. I show them Goya's images of the Giant, especially the Giant with the village. I tell them that they are going to choose something to make as a giant in a cityscape. We discussed the various shapes of buildings and the details on them. We looked at the kinds of colors used. (For variation, they can also draw these as Something Giant in the Garden, closet, dresser drawers, under the bed, etc.). Then I did some demonstrations of different ways to draw buildings and change rooftops, angles, etc., add different kinds of windows. We discussed overlapping, and I demonstrated how they could tuck in freeway overpasses that went behind or in front of buildings in the city. Perhaps they could be train tracks.
One requirement is that they have all of the things in a city... such as cars, trucks, ambulances, police, fire engines, TV crews, buses, and a lot of people reacting to this giant thing that has come to town. These are done with 3rd graders late in the year, after we have done an undersea watercolor that also focused on overlapping, depth, unity, grouping, contrast, and so on. They are building on previous knowledge.
Language Art Extension:
They automatically make up the story as they draw them. I have never had them write about them, but they certainly would be great to write about. Perhaps this is something the core classroom teacher would like to do for creative writing.
Suggestions from Linda:
We have used Cray-Pas on black Construction Paper, and we have used mixed media with
texture sheets/Crayons on the buildings, Colored Pencils for tiny things, lettering, etc, and watercolor resist or wash in areas. A few bright markers here and there are not bad either in mixed media, as long as they don't go crazy with them. One problem with AquaMarkers is that they do fade over time. I have seen such great things with this project. I would heartily recommend it to grades 3 and up. I had one boy do his baby brother as a giant in diapers, crawling on a freeway, picking up cars like blocks and playing with them, as well as a huge variety of flying animals, giant sea serpents arising form the waters on a wharf in a seaside town... swarms of huge bugs, giant sea monsters crawling up a bridge, and huge rats on freeways. The Metropolitan Shoe collection is a great resource to use if someone wants to draw really interesting shoes and legs on a giant. Maybe let the giant reach into the picture with a hand to pick up a person, building, train, etc. Loads of fun here. Kids get really engrossed in these drawings. We spend about a month on them (once a week classes). You could stop with the drawing part if you don't have time for more. My kids start out in light pencil and go over them with skinny sharpies. Then we proceed to mixed media. If they draw on black paper, I'd start with pencil or chalk and proceed to Cray-Pas/colored pencils.
This lesson teaches them so much about overlapping and they really get into the idea of freeways/trains that are elevated, passing behind or in front of buildings. They like adding bridges (the Bridges book from Dover is a great resource for that), and we spend a lot of time talking about variety of sizes/shapes in buildings/ doors/ windows. There is as much in this lesson. Anything that keeps kids drawing so intently for days on end is worth it's weight in gold to me. This is truly captivating for kids, year after year.
My students put perspective into their cities (3rd grade) by overlapping and diminishing size. A few of them try to show a vanishing point, but I don't push that at 3rd grade level. Some of them just naturally get it, which is amazing at that age. Often they are children of architects. I try to get them to include overpasses and freeways, elevated trains, etc. so that they have to think about what you can see behind them and through the posts that support them. Of course, we talk about variety and details in building designs. Examples above show texture sheets to color the buildings, combined with watercolor and colored pencil. Some of them added resist raindrops, stars, clouds and so on to their skies. I talked about roads in perspective, trying to show them how a road could curve and be wider in the foreground than the background. A number of them did do some pretty cool things with their bridges, roads, overpasses, freeways, and elevated train ideas.
Images below are shown without permission. They are not in public domain. They are intended to give art teachers an idea of the kind of research that goes into creating a successful lesson. Images will be removed if requested.
Note: All images are copyrighted and shown here without permission. They will be removed immediately at request. The graphic examples above come from an illustrators' magazine and name of artists are unknown. They are only used here to give art teachers an idea of the kind of images to use to inspire students in this lesson.
From Fran Legmen
Fran's third graders had fun with this lesson. The students outlined everything in colored sharpies, then colored them using water soluble oil pastels with water and brushes to blend.