Submitted by: Jan Eckardt Butler, Holland Hall Middle School, Tulsa, OK
Grade Level: Middle School (examples are 6th Grade - more below)
To learn about drawing the human figure.
To learn to handle different drawing media.
To learn patience.
To learn respect of others.
To earn respect from others.
Class of 14-18 kids has art for 45 minutes daily for 1 week.
Drawing Boards 20" x 25" (51 x 63.5 cm) with clip, for each student. (You can also get Wood Drawing Boards)
A place to individually store daily drawings for one week.
Paper:Newsprint cut to fit drawing board. Each will use 10-15 sheets in a week.
Tru-Ray Construction Paper and better white or colored Drawing Paper. Gray Bogus Drawing Paper is nice for figure drawing, too.
M. M., pencil, 6th grade
B. H., charcoal, 6th grade
Media: Soft Drawing Pencils 2B or 3B are best. School pencils will do in a pinch.
Art erasers, Magic Rub Erasers, Kneaded Rubber Erasers are all OK.
Charcoal Pencils that can be sharpened in a sharpener. Charcoal and white Pastels
for highlights. Fixative is essential if charcoal sticks are used.
A place to set up a table or bench for models where the others can form a semicircle in chairs or at tables around the bench.
Black or colored draping for a dark background if student models are in light colored clothes.
Clothes and hats (beware of head lice transmission - have disinfectant spray on hand) for models to wear. Our school has uniforms, so wearing different clothes makes drawing more interesting. Hats and scarves are especially good for accentuating head and face. A striped blanket around a model is good to relieve some kids from having to draw the figure. Drawing goes much easier if the drawings don't have to look like the model.
Strong light source (day light or artificial light) helps but in not essential.
Models: The kids model for each other.
A. T., pencil, 6th grade
J. R., pencil, 6th grade
Day 1: Each kid takes a drawing board, 2 pieces of newsprint and pencil of his choice. Then ask who wants to be a model. Find a fair method of choosing models for the 3 to 4 10 minute poses for that day. I had them draw sticks with 2 sticks having an X on one end. Class size determined there were 2 models in each pose. I posed the kids pointing out that holding a pose for 10 or more minutes is difficult and that the pose needed to be comfortable. It is important to NOT PUT THE MODEL'S NAME ON THE DRAWING, only their own name.
The first day is noisy and full of giggles until I tell them I am writing down names of those who talk. I encourage them to use the whole page, running off the edge with lines, etc. I tell them to leave out the face for now. I encourage them to find a line in the model, perhaps the line of the hat brim and start from there continuing from that to another line which meets that one, perhaps the hair or the collar. Sometimes I will sit in one of the chairs and draw the model and tell them if they want to watch me draw, it's OK. Then I try to describe what line I am drawing and how I see the model. I tell them that when I was in 6th grade my drawings looked like theirs and because I have been drawing so many years I have gotten better. With 5-10 minutes to clean up on the first day, I try to choose the models for the next day. The kids must find their cubby and put their names on all their papers and pick up and put away the materials.
Day 2: The kids can get to work quickly because they know who is modeling first and they know where the materials are. They are still using newsprint and pencil or charcoal pencil. Erasers are always OK in my class. As they continue they find they don't use them as much. As a class we begin to learn who the good models are. I always write down all the models names and time for each day. They must always be reminded to stop talking (models included) because we need to concentrate on making good drawings. Some days are noisier than others. Not all kids will make good drawings every day. Point out NEGATIVE SPACE, CONTOUR LINES, PATTERN, LIGHT AND SHADOW and describe how to see them. Note that kids will approach drawing in different ways and there is not one right way. The poses can be at 10 minutes or longer depending on the character of the class. Stop class in time for spraying pictures (away from kids face, outside if possible). Choose the models for the next day.
A. H., pencil, 6th grade
Z. G. charcoal, 6th grade
Day 3: Kids know the routine. They may try a different pencil or charcoal, but I still pose the models and try to vary the hats, robes etc. I may set up the strong light source on this day. If there is enough natural light for drawing I may turn off the overhead lights and use flood lights on one side of model. I point out that it makes lines easier to see, and that they can start to do some shading in their drawings. Charcoal sticks are messy but are good for shading. I always tell them they can leave out the faces, but many of them want to put faces in and do a pretty good job. I walk around behind the students and encourage each one. If one is still drawing stick figures I try to show them exactly how I start, which line I start with, how far to draw it, which line goes next, etc. step by step, giving encouragement for each line they make. Stop class for clean up time and choose who will model 15 minutes the next day. Most kids will get to model 2 times in a week. No one is forced to model. Some really want to draw.
Days 4 and 5: Longer poses of 15 minutes or more. If there is space, the model can lie down on her side. Some kids may use better paper and/or colored paper. With colored paper the charcoal shading can be enhanced with white pastel for the highlights, and to mix with black for gray. The better drawers should be using good paper. Hopefully they won't be too scared of it and this day or the next will get a good drawing on good paper. End of class... choose models for last class. Last class could be one quiet model who can be still for 30 minutes and another two models with two different shorter poses. You may want to stop early to review the week's drawings.
Examples of 6th grade drawings:
Z. G., charcoal, 6th grade
K. C., charcoal, 6th grade