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Follow the searching line technique used by Alexander Calder in his sculptures, mobiles, and paintings as you create an original portrait.
Alexander Calder was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 22, 1898. Calder came from a long line of artists: his mother was a painter, and both his father and grandfather were noted sculptors. Although Calder is best known for his hanging sculptures (mobiles), he also created boldly colored floor sculptures (stabiles), as well as paintings and wire sculptures.
Before Calder began creating his monumental mobiles and stabiles, he spent a great deal of time sketching people and animals in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. He had already graduated college, and was working as a commercial artist. Calder then took a job on a British freighter, which enabled him to earn his way to Paris, where he first exhibited his wire sculptures of a miniature circus (see Elephant, 1928).
To create a drawing in the searching manner of Calder's wire sculptures, students begin with construction paper and a single, dark Crayola® Marker. Use a continuous line (a line that starts and ends only once in this drawing) to record the details of a human face. Have students look closely at the person they are drawing, move the marker in the same way the eye travels over the shapes that it sees. Repeat or correct a line, but never lift the marker or try to erase a line that has already been made!
Students compare their drawing to Calder's wire sculptures (Medusa and Elephant). Note the similarity of the drawing to Calder's sculptures.
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