Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lesson: I can't RESIST it! Contour Line Drawing Project

In between large, very structured projects, I wanted something in which students would explore both a new drawing technique to them, as well as apply some of the watercolor techniques they learned during their sketchbook cover project.  Something more... loose.  I was also looking for something that would only take about a week or so before moving into our printmaking unit.  


For this project, students first practiced making several contour and blind contour drawings.  We started with them choosing a person or a hand gesture.  On the second day, they practiced drawing objects like shoes or other objects in the classroom.  They had a bit of difficulty remembering not to lift their pencil off of the paper.  Students also tended to draw items that were very simple or more two-dimensional like an iPod or an analog clock in the room.  I had to really push them to use only forms (3D objects) to work from.  



After that, we 
began the "large project."  Part of this project was about following directions.  I even ended up giving students a grade if they followed all of the directions (or not).  As you can see to the left, I had some pretty explicit instructions.  I still briefly demonstrated/walked through the Day 1 process so students could SEE the steps taking place and ask questions along the way.  

I actually really enjoyed this change of pace, because each day, I would just hand them the new instructions, and students would grab their artwork, and know exactly what to do.  If students were absent, I typically tell them to read the handouts, ask their neighbors, and THEN they can come ask me questions.  This worked fairly well to cut down on repeating myself, plus students teach each other.  That freed me up to walk around more, address some of the contour drawing issues mentioned above (don't take your pencil off the paper!).  

On Day 2, students finished up drawings from the previous day if needed, as well as applied  oil pastel or crayon and glue resists, and various marker line weights.  The work needs to dry overnight.  On Day 3, students recalled the various watercolor techniques from prior projects.  In this, students found it very exciting to see the crayon resists (especially the light colored crayons like flesh and white and yellow) "popping" out through their watercolors.  

Lastly, students were to emphasize the idea of layers by using crayons, color pencils, or collage on their work.  They were also to emphasize specific objects in their artwork through value, color, etc.  

Overall, this project was okay.  I definitely will refine it next time I use it.  
Feedback:  Some of their resists did not turn out so great.  Either they didn't press hard enough with the crayon/oil pastel, or they barely put enough glue regardless of my demonstration, repetition, and... (yes, it's true) nagging.  I left the watercolor portion pretty free, and some of the students had some AMAZING contour drawings... but less than desirable watercolor techniques that may have obliterated their really great drawings.  I could put on more restrictions onto this portion to make sure I get more "clean" looking artwork.  But... some of this was just nice to be loose and let the students interpret their artwork how they see fit.  As long as they got the concepts, I was happy with their results.  Sometimes, we just have to say... it's ok (this time)!  


  1. I love the spin you put on contour drawing...I'll be trying this for sure!

  2. Great- let me know how it goes (went)! I'm all ears for any other twists or suggestions!!

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  4. Thank you! Love your lesson plan ideas! I am just starting out as a city art teacher!!

    1. Thanks LBERT! I hope you are doing well in the city!

  5. I used this briljant lesson plan. Actually already two of yours in my new adult art class. Thanks Janet for sharing all this. It's fantastic stuff!