Saturday, January 11, 2014

Draw Me a Bird

That's a really oblique reference to Let Petit Prince, so don't worry about it.

I mean, to even understand the reference properly, you'd have to be in my head, imagining the voice that I use for the prince when he asks the narrator to draw him a sheep. I can't do that voice out loud, because I'm not a little French boy/space alien, so... yeah.

Also, we didn't even draw sheep, we drew birds, so it's an impossible reference, written only to amuse me, and maybe Matt, for whom I WILL attempt the voice, and he won't even get it, either, and he's my husband and used to the random phrases from books and movies that I pretend are references that another person should get.

Anyway. Birds!

In this lesson of Drawing With Children, the author talks us through drawing a bird on a limb. I'm supposed to read the instructions out loud while modeling them with my own drawing, and the kiddos follow along.

The activity went... okay, but on the fly I made some modifications that made it, and hopefully the future activities from the book, go much better. For instance, Will's first bird drawing was pretty miserable for her to both produce and look at. I couldn't figure out if she was doing the worst possible job on purpose, because sometimes if you ask her to do something that she doesn't want to do she WILL do the worst possible job on purpose to prove a point, or if she was genuinely struggling with the oral directions, because as Matt often reminds me, Will's a very visual learner. So I asked her to draw the bird again, but this time had her read the instructions for herself:

Much happier kid. More more satisfying drawing (see her first attempt there at her elbow?). For future lessons, I'll photocopy the directions and she may read them herself as she follows along with me.

Syd has her own struggles. Although Drawing with Children is adamant that we do not start over and we do not erase (that's why we have to use pens), I did permit Syd to start over as many times as she liked AFTER we'd done the entire drawing properly together one time:

I'm still making them both use Sharpie, however, because I think Syd would be even more of a perfectionist with that thin, erasable pencil line that shows every bump and bobble. Because the Sharpie is that much thicker, I think it plays off a few unsteady strokes or slightly messed up bits that she'd be tempted to fuss about otherwise. In a few more lessons, when they're ready for more precise strokes, I might graduate them to the much thinner black Flair pens.

Thanks to Drawing with Children, I always remind the children now, when they begin an artwork, that it's the details that make a picture "more." I usually reference a famous piece and we discuss the work, the time, and the thought that must have gone into that piece, and how that makes the piece different--not better, but definitely "more"--than a quick sketch.

[Tangent: The last time we discussed this--yesterday, in fact, as the kiddos were beginning to work on creating sarcophagus art--Will asked, "Well, what if a painter put a bunch of work and time and thought into making a painting, and he put a bunch of details in, but it was all black, and it just looked like black paint?"

And I said, "Ooh, well if that painter did put a bunch of work and time and thought into doing that, then of COURSE it could hang in a museum and be art, even if it was just black paint! It would be a fascinating statement about the artistic process!" And then we talked about modern art.

Also, I really hope that Will creates that black painting one day.]

As well as the Drawing with Children advice, though, I also always reference the Waldorf concept of "closing the windows"--of course, we're not bathing every inch of our paper in wet-on-wet watercolor here, but I find the idea of covering your surface with your art helpful for them to think about as they work.

Also helpful, I believe, is that fact that their end results are ALWAYS worth of display on the wall:

Next week, art will consist of something from one of the Draw Write Now books, which I think work GREAT with Drawing with Children, and I'm also realizing that I really should get us back into the regular trips to art museums that we used to be in the habit of.

And y'all, I don't want to brag on myself too much, but I think that my own drawing skills are improving tolerably, as well!


Tina said...

Of course your drawing is improving! It doesn't have a choice if you actually try and practice :0)

I love seeing the girls progress with their art work, and I LOVE the idea of Willow's black art piece. We did a few of the lessons from that book and liked them, but then we kinda forgot to stick with it.

julie said...

Drawing with Children feels like one of those books that you don't necessarily have to stick with strictly, fortunately for us! I feel like just being familiar with the five shape families has improved everyone's thoughtfulness in drawing so much!

I'm sort of cheating with our art lessons, though, so it will serve me right when I don't progress as quickly as the girls do. We do our lessons together, but I rarely sit with them and do the more thoughtful art that's meant to accompany them. I need to break that bad habit!


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