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Don't Look - Just Draw!

Relax reluctant artists who feel drawings must look like photographs with this exercise in blind line drawing.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Create a display of fine art reproductions representing various schools of art. Include some very realistic pieces such as works by Renaissance artists as well as examples of impressionistic and/or abstract art.
    2. Encourage students to discuss the various artists’ interpretations of what they saw. What is the difference between a painting and a photograph? Should art be judged by how realistic it is, or are there other qualities that make a piece of art memorable?
    3. To help students loosen up with their drawings, try this blind line exercise. Provide each student with a piece of plain white drawing paper and a pencil. Set up several simple still life subjects around the room and encourage students to move to where they can easily see one of them. Explain that when you tell them to start, they are to begin drawing without looking at their picture or lifting their pencil from the page. They are to keep their eyes on the subject the whole time. Only when they feel they are finished and have set the pencil down can they look at what they have drawn. Allow about five minutes for this part of the exercise.
    4. Once everyone has finished, provide a few minutes for students to respond to the experience. Then invite them to add color to their drawings using Crayola® watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers. Encourage them to take their time with this. Suggest that tracing over the lines of their drawings with a dark or bold color will make the images stand out.
    5. Provide a place in the classroom for students to display their work. Encourage discussion. How did students feel about this project? How did adding color change the images? What did they learn from this experience?
    6. Ask students to think about how they might apply what they have learned from this art exercise to their writing. Introduce them to stream of consciousness writing and then suggest they take five minutes to write without stopping about the above art experience and/or the image they created. When they are finished, invite them to review what they have written and shape it into a free verse poem or short narrative.
    7. Display student writing with their art. Gather the class near the display and invite those who wish to read what they have written or discuss their art to do so. Ask students to compare the works of art with the written pieces. In what ways do the written pieces seem to have evolved from the art?
  • Standards

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    VA: Compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.

    VA: Compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject matter.

  • Adaptations

    Encourage students to try writing short stream of consciousness pieces in their journals over a one week period. Then suggest that they review what they have written and select one piece to develop into a more polished piece of writing.

    A number of picture book artists have addressed the question of what is art in an attempt to loosen up would be artists who feel self conscious about their work. Create a display of such books and encourage students to peruse them. Suggested titles include: “Ish” by Peter Reynolds, “Bear’s Picture” by Daniel Pinkwater, “Art & Max” by David Wiesner, and “When Pigasso Met Mootisse” by Nina Laden.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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