Still Life Magic

Teaching kids observational drawing is my jam!!! I just love to see how each child can find a way to take an object or a collection of objects and create space through simple lines!  I make sure this is a unit in my teaching for each kid experiences and I love it!

Here are four different ways to use observational drawing we used in my classroom this year. I like to start with simple shapes in the first grade and then advance to a combination in the second grade and then again….a shoe (so complex sometimes) and then challenge my students to take on a still life that some adults would cringe at…our instrument still life! The challenge is a big one, but the kids handle it wonderfully!

In first grade we studied still life and students observed how to draw flowers in a vase. Students learned how to double their lines and how to create a 3-dimensional way of creating the vase (I teach them to use a smile for the bottom of the vase rather than a straight line) .  Then students used watercolors to blend and create their paintings.

In Second grade, students learned how to overlap many objects and create space in their work. We then went on to create shading blends with crayons!

Third grade students also engaged in a still life….and I can promise you that they will never look at their shoes the same way again! I remember drawing my shoe when I was a kid, so it seems like a rite of passage. We studied how to create contour lines, sketching techniques and then adding details and shading.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 11.47.22 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 11.50.39 AM

Fourth grade had a serious sketching session bringing this intensely complex still life to their papers and with great determination! We studied contour lines, compositional design and oil pastel blending. We also talked about how having a positive attitude and determination can change the way you approach and start a drawing. I encouraged students to make 50 mistakes to start- they will learn 50 things if they do!

How do you do still life in your classrooms?


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