Submitted by: Melissa Speelman, Sycamore Junior High Cincinnati, Ohio Unit: Contour Drawing - Portrait - Elements and Principles of Design Review Grade Level: Middle School (these are 7th grade) See more examples (Archive)
Objectives: Students will
Create portrait with contour line - drawing from observation
Contrast warm and cool colors - work with pattern and textures
Work wet in wet graded wash technique
Develop skills in using elements and principles of design
"My contour drawing lesson is one of the few that I repeat on a regular basis. It's one of those projects where EVERY student finds success and ends up with an incredible piece of art. I do this with my 7th grade. It is usually our second major project. I use it as an introduction to learning to see (observation drawing). We begin with a Betty Edwards style upside-down drawing and discuss the right and left side of the brain. Then we move on to a few blind contour drawings of the hand. We move on to modified line with hands as our subject once again and then try a portrait. The "final exam" as I call it is a very detailed portrait plus everything in the background using modified line on 18"x24" paper. The drawings don't take as long as you'd think usually about one bell (50 min.) each. Students draw the person across from them and I ask them to include the edge of the table in their composition. Drawings are then outline with permanent marker."
"The color is applied using watercolor and colored pencil. This part is a little involved. Students are asked to "fracture" the composition by drawing a pattern over their drawing (circles, stripes, free form shapes, clouds, etc). Students will use a warm and cool color scheme. Each student decides which color scheme will go with watercolor and the other applies to colored pencil. Colored pencil areas will be filled with patterns using the designated color scheme (Texture panels can be used for this step --many are available). Watercolor areas will be filled with solid color or a graded wash using the opposite cool scheme. Each defined shape (a shape is defined by the contour lines as well as the pattern lines) will filled with a different pattern or wash."
"For example: Let's say a student drew circles over their composition. Each defined shape inside the circles could be filled with different colored pencil patterns using only cool colors. Then each defined shape outside of the circles would be filled with watercolor (solid color or graded wash) using only warm colors. I usually tell students they can only use mixed watercolors because I really can't stand those colors straight out of the pan."
"I have a had a class or two that just cannot get these "rules" straight. See one example where a student did not follow "the rules" completely. I have been known to simplify them (See example - In this example the figure is done all in warm colors while the background is all in cool colors.). However I find that if I show them an example and explain the process they catch on quickly. Also, some of the patterns students choose present complications of their own. Many times if I sit with a student and go over their choices for color schemes the light bulb goes on and they "get" it."