Noilly Prattle: Call Me Mr. B. – Eight

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Call Me Mr. B. – Eight

Grade 3

Drawing from the model [with Mr. B.]
(Halloween theme)

     As an offshoot of my draw-with-the-teacher method I introduced the tried and true technique of drawing from the model that is used in most traditional drawing classes in art schools, museum classes, etc. Since traditional nude models were neither available nor appropriate for primary school age children, and bowls of fruit wouldn't exactly light up their eyes either, but using a model is a basic exercise in looking and seeing, I devised some more appropriate and, for children, alluring “models”.

         By assembling various elements into a recognizable integrated design based on shapes and concepts that had already been presented and used in the previously discussed drawing with Mr. B post, I created a model from materials I had in my preparation room (studio). I had an enormous inflatable jack-o-lantern pumpkin, a globe of the earth and some other lesson samples made of paper (bird) and papier mâché mask-like objects [see right].

         I then chose a couple of corrugated cardboard boxes of different heights, put them together one in front of the other and covered them with a large piece of material that had a lady bug pattern (more circles). Placing the pumpkin (with flat thin plastic 'rope' for hair) on the top and the bird on the lower shelf, the globe on the left and a little to the back and leaning the mask-like objects against either side of the box produced a colorful and fun model, albeit more than a little challenging, for the kids. The cartoon-like quality of the model distracted the children's attention from the actual level of challenge it entailed.

         Needless, to say, I didn't leave them hanging from a cliff by their fingernails. I would start by pointing out the concepts we had already discussed like shapes and lines. They could readily see that the basic shapes involved were circles that they had already proven to themselves they could do from the Panda picture. But this, clearly, was far more complex and they would need direction as to where to transpose the objects from a three-dimensional model to a flat piece of paper. And so, once again, I worked on the whiteboard establishing the layout and positioning on the paper while issuing directions and commands.

         Children don't readily see that there is big difference in the size of the various objects, especially the pumpkin vis-a-vis the other circles. Oh, they can see that it is bigger, but have difficulty transferring that seeing to a proportional drawing on their paper. A close look at the picture will reveal that the pumpkin takes up the whole top half of the paper and most of the other elements are on the bottom half while the globe is in between (I later eliminated the globe to simplify the picture, it tended to make it look too busy and confused the kids).

         To teach this lesson I only instructed the children in the basic layout and shapes [on the right without the globe] and left the details to them to draw by looking at the model carefully and encouraging them to represent it as accurately as they could while allowing plenty of room for creativity. I didn't insist on an exact reproduction, which is pretty much impossible anyhow. Everyone sees things differently while looking at the same thing. This lesson was a project for two weeks. We would draw the pencil sketch and black line it with felt tip markers the first week, and color and finish the picture the second week. 

         As in the previous post, the results were, of course, varied. But it also gave most of the kids more confidence than they had before and a pretty decent number of the drawings were really quite good and in some cases I would say more whimsical than mine. Which, of course, was a delight to see and encouragement for me that these methods were working.

To be continued...

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