Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lesson on Highlighting, Shading & Blending: Ages 2 through 6

 I had prepared a spot for each child at the table with these drawing tools: An artist graphite pencil, a writing pencil, a store bought blending stick, a handmade blending stick, a piece of white charcoal, grey paper which I taped to the table for stability, a folded up paper towel, and objects for my students to try to draw.  Scroll down for more images and techniques on giving this lesson.

This was an experimental lesson to teach my students a few drawing techniques that many artists use when creating different dimensions, especially in realism.  During my lesson, the kids were shown various graphite drawings and charcoal drawings by a number of artists.  I pointed out different levels of lightness and darkness throughout the work and talked about where the light source was coming from.  I also had some fake fruit handy (from the kids' play kitchen), and put a spotlight on the fruit to point out how it is much brighter on one side than the other.  They took note of where the shadows were made and many were able to point out where the light source was coming from in several pictures that were shown.  Finally, I showed them how to use some of the drawing tools that I offered and demonstrated how to use them on some grey art paper.  I would suggest any colored paper except for white, because the white charcoal will not show up so much on white paper.  If you are interested in trying out these things, I made a list towards the bottom of this post on how the material was presented.

Okay, so you might be thinking to yourself, how should we expect these kids to understand this stuff?  First off, you can't typically expect something "realistic" to come out of this age group.  However, you can expect that the kids will gain knowledge and a better understanding of how things are made.  This is the age where kids are consuming so much information, even if their little fingers aren't quite coordinated physically to create exactly what you are showing them.  Many children will experiment with some of the ideas that you show them, and they will likely do their own thing, too, which leads them to open new doors of creativity that perhaps they didn't know they had.  After most of my fine art lessons, I find that children think more about the dimensions they are drawing/painting/etc., as well as the meaning of the art.  In the moment, they feel that their work is special, regardless of what anyone else thinks it looks like.  And when they think it's special, they are proud of themselves!  That said, on many levels, art is an important subject for children as it can give them a sense of pride in their work and more importantly, in themselves.

When I offered the fake fruits and vegetables for the kids to draw, some of them tried to trace the shape in order to make it "life like."  This was not something I suggested, but I thought it was an interesting way for them to explore drawing from still life.

For you teachers out there, get creative and teach this in whatever manner you choose.  Here are some ways I showed my students how to work with the tools:

An Artist Graphite Pencil & a normal, Everyday Writing Pencil (led or graphite will do): My artist graphite pencil was a 4B and I would suggest this grade or anything darker, as long as it is more contrasting than the writing pencil.  I showed my students a grading scale from light to dark with each pencil to compare the densities.  I wanted them to recognize that there are special pencils out there specifically for drawing that can give them more variety in lightness and darkness.  You may want to point out that you are gently pressing your pencil down for the lighter areas (when making a grading scale) and you are pressing down harder with your pencil as you get darker.

Blending Sticks:  I offered both store-bought blending sticks from an art store, and then I made some larger ones to experiment with to.  To make your own blending sticks, first tear some news paper into a large triangular shape.  I suggest tearing over cutting as it will help create a softer tip once you've rolled it up.  Begin rolling from one of the points, and just try to keep it rolling tight, more so on one end, to create a long and narrow cone.  Tape the end of it, and if your point is a little too narrow or flimsy, it won't hurt to just snip it off and shorten it a little with some scissors.  Show the kids how the blending sticks can smudge or blend in pencil markings to create shades and shadows.

Folded Up Paper Towel:  I folded a paper towel up into a small square and showed the kids how this can also be used to blend pencil marks.  The kids can experiment with the different textures that each blending tool has to offer.

White Charcoal: A piece of chalk might also do as a substitute.  I mentioned to the kids how the light areas on the drawing could be blended with the charcoal.  I also showed them how the paper towel works best for blending the charcoal in.

I hope this was helpful!  Contact me with any questions!

Thanks for reading,
Angelique Bowman

©2013 Angelique Buman Studio Lessons with Little Wonders: All work offered on this blog is offered as lessons written by Angelique Buman.  If you are interested in purchasing more thorough lessons on fine art for kids, please contact Angelique Buman.

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