Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
Drawing and Color Media
“I see drawings and pictures in the poorest of huts and the dirtiest of corners.”
— Vincent van Gogh
As we conquer the last few months of school, this is our busiest time of the year—March is Youth Art Month. It’s time to advocate for the arts, have your art shows, and of course keep making wonderful art. This month we focus on drawing and color media, so get those crayons, markers and colored pencils out and start using these amazing tips.
Don’t Throw Them Out! Barbara Reibman from Welleby Elementary School in Sunrise, Fla., has her students peel the old broken crayons and put them in baggies. She puts one bag of each color on each table. The students use the sides of the crayons to fill in large areas and backgrounds of artwork and posters. This makes the artwork have a finished look because all space is filled in with color. They also use these crayons for rubbings with rubbing plates. It gives students another appreciation for their old crayons. Now they love them!!!
I use my old crayons to do a faux encaustic project. I melt them in crayon melters, and then my students use them to paint some magnificent paintings on mat board or heavy cardboard. When the wax is dry and the paintings are finished, I have them buff them with a smooth cotton towel. This gives them a nice sheen and the paintings looked finished.
Always Keep a Sketchbook Handy Encourage your students to keep a sketchbook with them at all times so that they can observe, analyze, interpret. Having a sketchbook is mandatory in my middle school art class. My students draw in their sketchbooks everyday, whether it is a 5-minute warm up or to make thumbnails for a project. I explain to my students that every artist always keeps a sketchbook with him just incase he sees something that he wants to draw or wants to jot down an idea. I also explain that their sketches are information for future projects.
Gesture This! Many of my students—and I’m sure plenty of yours—complain that they do not know to draw. Before explaining that everyone can learn, I do a quick exercise of gesture drawingswith them. I demonstrate on the white board as a student models. The students love this and they want to be the one to model. That’s my hook. I tell them that everyone can model, if and only if, I see great gesture drawings as I walk around the room. Each student gets his or her chance of stardom modeling for approximately 30 seconds. I try to do this a few days in a row so that the students get used to it and start to see the proportion of the body without having to be threated to draw a detailed person.
Drawing from Life After many lessons on gesture drawing, it is time to set my students loose in the art room. I have many props, such as bowls, bottles, little statues, and an assortment of, well, junk. My students start by choosing one item. They are expected to visually dissect the item and draw many angles of it, including any shading they see. The more they draw from real items, the better the drawings get. These are done in their sketchbooks and dated. When we do our individual reviews/critiques, I am able to point out the improvements in each student’s drawings.
Experiment with Color Why not experiment with color—different wet and dry mediums in the same piece of artwork. Most of us have done crayon resist, but what about using watercolor, gouache and crayons all in the same piece? Or oil sticks, markers and rubber stamps on another. Kids love to experiment with different media. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, especially if you give your students many options, but it is so worth it in the end.
My art club students are making sculptural books. They are using a combination of concentrated watercolors as the base, metallic paint markers, black Sharpies and oil pastels. The results thus far have been amazing.
Happy birthday to Abstract Expressionists Oskar Kokoschka (March 1, 1886), Elaine de Kooning (March 12, 1918), and Hans Hofmann (March 21, 1880). Happy birthday also to Michelangelo (March 6, 1475), Piet Mondrian (March 7, 1872), Rosa Bonheur (March 16, 1822), Juan Gris (March 23, 1887), Francisco Goya (March 30, 1746), and Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853).
Be sure to check out this month’s Study Print on the flip-side of this page: a portrait by Juan Gris of a very well-known artist.
Thanks Barbara for your great tip.
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: [email protected]