Drawing is a skill that children can learn. In my experience of many years teaching art to children I came across to only two children that could draw in perfect perspective from observation or from memory, Fergus and James. Most of the children learn how to draw with practice, when they are very young children draw mostly from imagination; they draw their feelings and their ideas in an abstract way. Later on, children start looking for other things to draw, it is at this point, that children will need the guidance and support of teachers at school and parents at home.
Samples of Drawings from sketch books
- Fergus, age 5: pencil drawing from memory “New York”
- Patricia, age 4: black pen drawing “Ladies in Stilettos”
- James, age 5: black pen drawing from Imagination “Warrior”
- Lucy, age 5: black pen drawing, “A corner of the Room”
The drawings above, were done by children in their spare time, at home and in the classroom. They made their own decisions on what to draw, they drew from imagination from memory and from observation.
Practicing drawing can take place every day for a short time. At school or at home, children keep sketch books and draw for 10 or 15 minutes with black pens. Motivation and encouragement are very important aspects of drawing. Drawing should be presented as an exciting activity that will take place preferably, at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the school day, but never at the end of the school day when children are tired and thinking of going home.
Drawing with black pens is a good practice to develop confidence as children cannot go back and erase their mistakes. When drawing with black pens or black ink children get used to accept mistakes as part of the overall drawing.
When drawing a Still Life Composition, introduce your activity by gathering the students on the carpet closer to you so you can get all their attention.
Talk to them about the wonderful opportunity to express ideas through drawing. Show the objects involved in the set up (composition) and point out how the objects “sit” in relationship to each other: in front, on the side and behind. Ask the students to describe the objects involved, short, long, fat, skinny, round, square, rough, smooth, red, blue, white etc., describing the objects students will find: shapes, colours, lines and textures.
It is easy to set up a point of interest for children to draw, a basket with fruit and a cloth with patterns in a corner of the room, a simple composition with a tea pot and a vase with flowers on a table or something that will spark their imagination like computer parts, mother boards, cables and other interesting bits. It could also be a group of tools, like kitchen tools.
- Emily, age 8: black pen still life drawing with water colour washes
- Francis, age 8: black ink drawing with water colour washes, drawn with a fine paint brush.
As they draw a still life composition, very young children will draw the objects on one line, side by side, later on, by practicing they will learn overlapping and the way objects relate to each other, the way they sit on the table, in front, behind, on the side.
It is important to guide and encourage young children to persevere with their ideas, by showing them the different drawing techniques. Once you have shown the procedure, children will develop their own way of using charcoal, pencils, pens, crayons and paint.
We should keep in mind that drawing can be done with different tools, not just the traditional drawing tools. Drawing with paint and paint brushes on paper, gluing lines of string on a piece of cardboard, tying yarns on sticks, forming lines and shapes with long pieces of fabrics on the play ground, is also a way of drawing having outdoors fun.
Mixed Media drawing inspired on the still life paintings by Morandi, dry pastels on coloured paper
- Benji, age 7, Still Life Composition
- George, age 5, Still Life Composition
From the ” Inside of Things Project” – Drawing Computer Parts
- Edan, age 7, Pen and Ink Drawing with ink washes
- Zaly, age 10, Dry Pastel Drawing, Computer Parts
- Sarah, age 11, Dry Pastel Drawing, Computer Parts
There are many ways to draw and inspire children to draw, the possibilities are numerous:
The City, The Urban Landscape, The Self, Self Portraits, A walk on the Park, Still life, a Corner of the room, Nature, seed pods, leaves and bark, emotions, sound and music and many other ideas that will inspire children to draw.
To find out how to present a drawing activity in the classroom or at home, please find our PDF project on Drawing and Painting on the Art Lessons Page of our web site.
For further reading find suggestions on our Teachers Help Page – Bibliography