A means of exploring shape through direct observation of the school environment
Drawing buildings is used here as a means of exploring shape through direct observation of the school environment. A number of strategies are suggested for approaching this drawing unit.
Begin this unit by revising the concept of shape and how children can look for outline shapes when they draw. Look at the notes below to find some links to other units for ideas about teaching children the concept of shape.
Decide on a building to draw. The drawing could be done in sketchbooks or on a larger scale using drawing boards. If you are working outside use masking tape to hold the corners of the paper to the board. Even a slight breeze can lift the corners of the drawing and this can be very frustrating for children. This unit uses the school building as an example. However, the method is appropriate to help children draw the facade of any building. The project does not address problems of perspective or 3D rendering.
"Let's look at the front of the school building. What shapes can you see? Let's make a list of all the parts of the building that you can see.
Now, choose a shape (for example, a window or a door) in the middle of the school building. Find the middle of your paper. Now draw the shape of the window or door in the middle of your paper.
What shapes can you see next to the first one? Are there more windows, or another door? What shapes can you see above the first shape? Draw these in next. Keep going, adding all the shapes that you can see in the building.
Think about how to draw the sides and the roof of the building. The whole building has an outline shape. Don't forget to go back and add in any smaller shapes and shapes inside shapes. For example, can you see the door handle shape inside the shape of the whole door?"
Encourage children who finish early or who have only been observing the more obvious features to go back and add more shapes in their drawing. If the building materials (such as stone or brick) have a shape these could become a feature of at least a part of the drawing.
When the child has completed the drawing ask them to look at shapes around and above the building itself. Is there anything else that could help contextualise the drawing? For example, children could add in cloud shapes or the shapes of buildings or trees to one or other side of the school.
Another way to tackle this drawing unit would be to ask children to draw the outline shape of the whole school building first and then add in all the smaller shapes of windows, doors and other architectural features. Try both methods. Older and more advanced children could be given a choice of methods.
When all the drawings are finished have an informal exhibition of the work in the classroom.
Take some photographs of the schooland use these as part of a final display. What are the differences between the photographs and the drawings. Do the children prefer the photographs or the drawings? Why?
Adapted and expanded from page 22 of 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 1', Nigel Meager, 1993, NSEAD. Also pages 79-85 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 2', Nigel Meager, 1995, NSEAD. See the NSEAD web site information about ordering these books.
Use drawing media that make good, clear graphic outlines, for example, fibre-tipped pens. The children could draw with larger black marker pens on large sheets of paper. These can be dramatic and powerful drawings.
Children ask what to do if they make a mistake. This question is a vital part of learning in art. We have include a unit 'drawing and making mistakes'.
Children may need help about how large to draw their first shape. If the first window or door is too large they will not have space to draw much else? Give them a rough guide. For example, you could say that the first shape should be no taller than their little finger! Another problem is that some children will start drawing the first shape very small. This could mean a tight and tiny drawing lost in the middle of the paper. You could give a child a smaller piece of paper or encourage them to make their drawing bigger. For example, the first shape should not be smaller than their little finger?
Link this unit with some of the other introductory shape work in arteducation.co.uk. For example look at 'drawing shapes by looking', 'drawing around shapes'.
You could extend this project by making imaginative building drawings or by making prints or collages.
This drawing method is a foundation process and can be used to underpin a way of helping children draw many different subjects.
Look at other drawing strategies linked to visual elements. For example, use the arteducation.co.uk search engine to find ways of drawing by starting with texture, tone, line and space.
Show the children examples of architects, drawings of facades.
More ideas about art connections:
Some interesting picture resources showing building shapes include Pieter Neeffs the Elder, 'Interior of a Dutch Church' (c.1640, Johnny van Haeften Gallery, London) and Camille Corot, 'The Village of Avray' (c.1840, Louvre, Paris).
Paper, drawing boards, drawing media, masking tape.