Tag: Drawing

5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

Description of the Unit –

Students will use a variety of artistic techniques to create a bright, vivid and wildly textured magnified dragon eye. When you look through the students’ dragon eyes below, note how remarkably unique each one is: it speaks to the fact that by 5th grade, many students are really beginning to hone in on their personal artistic styles!

5th grade art lesson - magnified dragon eye
5th grade art lesson – magnified dragon eye
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6th Grade – Chiaroscuro Still Life Drawing and CJ Hendry

6th Grade – Chiaroscuro Still Life Drawing and CJ Hendry

Description of the Unit –

We begin by diving into the fascinating art of CJ Hendry. Hendry expresses having no formal art training and considers herself “not very creative.” Yet she’s a dedicated, innovative artist whose works are primarily hyper-realistic, large scale pencil drawings of (mostly) luxury objects that sometimes take 200 hours to complete. Working with pencil on paper her pieces are achieved through layers of what she refers to as scribbles. Watching her work (you can see some fun videos of her at work here: https://youtu.be/KB8vc9M4QWs and https://youtu.be/KixMpzhMS-o) students become awe-struck by the way her tireless pencil strokes become such lifelike, more-than-photographic representations of real-life objects. They wonder aloud how she does it, exclaiming that they would love to draw like Hendry. I tell them that this unit will give them a foundation for getting there.

two images of artist CJ Hendryy working on her drawings, one of a pair of men's Gucci shoes, another of a boxing glove
CJ Hendry working on her compelling, hyper-realistic drawings
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7th Grade – Mark-making and Pen Drawing

7th Grade – Mark-making and Pen Drawing

Description of the Unit –

Students will first practice a variety of line drawing, or mark-making, techniques, and then use those techniques to render a landscape or still life in pen.

Activity statement –

Using photographs as a starting point, the objective of this lesson was for students to express changes in perspective, texture and value (light and dark) in a realistic drawing using a variety of lines, such as stippling, hatching, and cross-hatching, as well as varying the lines’ density. In this way they can transform a pen drawing into a realistic representation of a scene in nature. To help in this objective, students first created a mark-making chart expressing different types of lines, and discussed how the different types of lines could be used to represent texture, perspective and value.

7th grade – mark-making chart
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4th Grade – Cubist-inspired Portrait and Figure Studies

4th Grade – Cubist-inspired Portrait and Figure Studies

Cubist-inspired Figure & Portrait Studies

Description of the Unit –

Students practiced aspects of traditional figure study, learning to draw facial features, hands and feet. Students then built on their experience to explore the Cubist approach to the figure, and used what they learned about Cubism to create a cubist-inspired portrait or figure collage their earlier drawings.

4th grade “Cubist” portrait collage
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6th grade – Designs inspired by Joan Miró

6th grade – Designs inspired by Joan Miró

The Whimsical Art of Joan Miró

Description of the Unit –

Students discovered the work of Joan Miró (1893-1983), a modern artist who blended thoughtful, “high art” concepts with spontaneous, playful designs that captured the imagination and challenged then-current notions of what constituted “good” art. A Miró tableau employed a muted, sparsely colored background with childlike doodles, geometric shapes and blocks of mostly primary color as foreground.

Guided by a similar sense of play, whimsy and surprise, students reproduced similarly styled, playful designs of their own.

Activity statement –

Joan Miró (1893-1983), a lighthearted, humorous, yet thoughtfully provocative artist, carved his own surrealist path, balancing spontaneity and automatism with meticulous planning and rendering (source: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-miro-joan.htm). He worked with limited palettes, combining muted backgrounds with mostly single-lined, bold, expressive color (however sparingly) and imagery in the foreground.

The Nightingale’s Song at Midnight and the Morning Rain, Joan Miró, 1940

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5th Grade –  Nighttime one-point perspective

5th Grade – Nighttime one-point perspective

Description of the Unit –

Students create a basic nighttime one-point perspective drawing that includes a vanishing point and a horizon line.

5th grade 1-point perspective drawing

Problem/Activity statement –

As objects recede in space, they become smaller to our eye, and eventually meet at a point. A horizon line meets at a vanishing point to separate sky and ground. Students will observe different examples of cities one-point perspective to begin to get a sense for how we perceive things up close and at a distance, as well as to learn to identify whether the perspective is high (“bird’s eye view”) at eye-level, or low (Cat’s eye view”). Additionally, students are challenged with expressing the qualities of color and light at night.

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3rd grade – Personification of feelings with Mies van Hout’s “Happy”

3rd grade – Personification of feelings with Mies van Hout’s “Happy”

“Happy” by Mies van Hout

Activity statement – If “sad” had a color, what color would that be? If “confused” were expressed in lines, what kind of lines would those be? By exploring the associations of color and lines to certain feelings, students will imagine little creatures that personify those feelings, much in the style of Mies Van Hout’s book “Happy”.

For a little video tutorial of this lesson, please visit:

Description of the Unit – Together in class we explored and discussed Mies Van Hout’s picture book “Happy”. In this book Van Hout has colorfully illustrated a number of different fish, each with clearly gestural lines personifying a different emotion (also helped by the expression on each fish’s face). In this book, each emotion is represented in the fish through use of color and line. The students discussed why they thought a particular fish was represented by certain colors or lines to describe a particular feeling. Students shared their own synesthesia around feelings, conveying what colors and types of lines they associate with a certain feeling.

©Mies van Hout
©Mies van Hout
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1st Grade – Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits

1st Grade – Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits

 Description of the Unit – Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits

Students will explore Frida Kahlo’s iconic self-portraits and, using their observations of her work, create their own, including at least one “spirit” animal in the portrait with them.

Self portrait with Bonito, 1941

Relationship to life –

Frida Kahlo was a prolific painter whose most painted subject was herself. She often painted herself with various animals by her side, such as monkeys, parrots, hummingbirds and deer. Some of these were her real life pets, others were animals she identified with. If students had to choose animals that they personally identify with, what animals would they be, and why?

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Kindergarten – “Our Eyes”

Kindergarten – “Our Eyes”

Description of the Unit –

“Our Eyes” – Students take turns observing each other’s eyes and drawing them.

Kindergarten student draws another student’s eyes

Activity statement –

This lesson invites students to truly gaze. Students will feel silly at first, sitting face-to-face just staring at one another, and there will be embarrassed giggles all around, but the idea is to prompt students to notice two elements in particular: the shapes they see within the features of the eyes, and the texture of the eyebrows.

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