fine art and private & home school K-12th grades Christian art curriculum
supporting the grammar, dialectic, and rehetoric stages of Classical education

How to Teach Drawing©
Spears Art Studio Christian art curriculum manuals and CD's

It is not difficult to teach drawing, nor is it necessary for the educator to know how to draw. It is important, however, to recognize line direction and basic shapes by continual observation. You will also hone your observation skills by asking students what lines and shapes they see in objects, thereby training the students along with yourself.

Our Matchless Creator used basic visual principles in creation:
1. lines -  straight, curved, and crooked, thick, thin, etc.
2. geometric shapes - circle, oval, triangle, rectangle, square, trapezoid, rhombus, etc.
3. forms (line and shape enclosing space) - sphere, "egg", pyramid, cone, cylinder, cube, etc.
4. combinations of line, shape, and form:
a. morphic - overall shape or form of a living thing in which the basic shapes change or are difficult to identify (i.e. leaf, amoeba, etc.); contour line plays a more dominant role
b. amorphic - overall shape or form of a non-living item (i.e. rock, etc.).

 A more extensive explanation of line and shape is found in the "General Rules" in the Spears Art Studio K-8 Christian Art Curriculum© Introduction.

Drawing animals is a good start for children, because most like animals. Children also generally become frustrated about the age of 9 or 10 when they think they need to make the animal look "real" in the sense of photographic realism. Teach them that if the cat drawing can be recognized as a cat, then the representation is successful. Photographic realism is admirable for demonstrating skill, but it is often without expression or interpretation.

Many animals have variations of oval heads, rectangular or oval bodies, and tube legs (See K-8 September Week #1). Animals are also identified by their coloring and patterns of fur, feathers, etc. A human being has variations of an egg-shaped head, trapezoid torso, rectangle pelvis, tube neck, arms, and legs, and ovals for hands and feet (See September Week #2 & 3). These, of course, are over-simplified, but are the basic shapes to begin a drawing. It is advisable not to skip these particular weekly themes with students so they don’t miss a foundation in identifying shapes and forms in objects before advancing through the curriculum. September Week #4 addresses the morphic shapes of leaves. October activities also address amorphic inanimate shapes.

"How to draw" books are valuable for younger students for two reasons:
1. to begin to recognize basic shapes in objects and living things, and
2. to let students practice on scratch paper if they have finished projects before others (in a setting with several students).

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The faces and the full figure are based on ideal measurements. Perfect heads and bodies are symmetrical, and are either egg-shaped or less pointed at the chin (especially for males). Female necks are more curved and narrow than male necks. A perfect proportion for a full figure is "eight heads high." In other words, if the head is one inch, the entire body will be eight inches. Since very, very few people are these ideal proportions, keen observation of the variations is necessary for a likeness.
High school students are encouraged to observe actual objects rather than the “how to” diagrams. They may certainly use the “how to” diagrams for reference, but learning to observe edges, spaces, and relationships of all components is better developed through continual observation and sketching practice. The Spears Art Studio High School Art Survey© takes the student in a natural progression through these observation steps.

Draw with LIGHT pencil pressure first. This makes erasure easier with a cleaner final drawing. Too many drawings are spoiled by erasures tearing the paper. Dark lines and shading should be last.

So concentration on shapes is important for all ages in learning to draw. Practice seeing shapes rather than recognizable objects. That is, draw what you see rather than what you know. For example in drawing a 3/4 view of a face, only part of one eye will be seen, not the whole eye.

Visualize hidden lines and draw them very lightly so that other objects will be placed correctly in front or behind other objects. For example, (if your intention is realism) to draw a table full of fruit, draw each fruit completely, placing some fruit overlapping. Then erase the lines IN the fruit to indicate which objects are in front. This will help space the objects so that there is visual room for objects behind. Too many beginners draw objects too close together to allow visual space for the complete object behind.

Practice seeing negative shapes in the spaces between objects. This will help with the over-all composition.

When drawing a figure, draw LIGHTLY all the parts of the figure before adding the clothing. This will help with the proportions so that the figure will be believable.

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