Contains affiliate links
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We’re into the last ten days of our 30 Days to Transform Your Play series. Today we are talking about observational drawing.
Observational drawing is not about creating a flawless likeness of a subject; like all languages– painting, sculpting, dance, drama, music… – it is another way for children to make their thinking visible.
The subject of an observational drawing set-up can be anything of interest to the child at the present moment; often you’ll see arrangements of flowers or natural materials collected from walks and other experiences.
However it really can be anything; we’ve taken our sketchbooks to different architecturally interesting buildings when Jack was interested in buildings, we’ve observed native birds as part of an on-going project, we’ve used our model skeleton to explore our bodies, we’ve even sat down to sketch the floor polishing machine at our local indoor sports centre.
Observational drawings can be something as simple as a provoking image in a book; Jack is hugely inspired by machines and inventions at the moment, or a more intentional invitation using materials inspired by the changing seasons or materials gathered from a recent field-trip or bush walk.
- Choose your subject – what has your child been exploring lately?
- Arrange your materials – use transparent vases, simple trays or a mirror to display your materials
- Choose your drawing materials – sharpened quality coloured pencils, fine-tipped markers, watercolour pencils
- fine-tipped markers are wonderfully satisfying for children. They create a nice dark line while being fine enough to allow for increasingly intricate details in their drawings.
- arrange them invitingly with some paper
- Ask questions, talk together about the subject but resist directing their work and telling them how to draw. We want to encourage our children to draw what they see and show them we value their ideas
- Take note of any new questions your child asks during their drawing – you can use these to explore further
Out and about:
Observational art while out and about is one of our favourite things to do. I pack the kids their visual journals (K-mart have reasonably priced journals) and some art supplies:
- coloured pencils
- fine-tipped markers
- watercolour pencils
- block watercolours and a brush and
- a clear container for water
Set yourself up when inspiration strikes.
BUT… My child doesn’t like drawing…
I think a love of drawing; sketching, mapping out ideas and representing them, grows like a love of reading. Similarly to learning to read though, I also think that learning to draw needs to be a relaxed and meaningful experience with no external pressure to create a specific product.
At first your child might not draw their subject, they might be inspired to use the colours for something else. This is ok. Talk with them about their drawings; this will give you more of an idea of what they are interested in drawing.
- create an observational drawing set-up for your child based on their interests or a recent experience
- leave the exploration out for the week
- after each drawing session, talk to your child about their drawings; encouraging them to articulate their ideas and clarify their theories – you can use these to make any changes to the invitation (the subject) over the week
If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series.
Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning
Stay up-to-date with each post in the series by subscribing to An Everyday Story and receive each new post in your inbox. Just enter your email address in the box in the side menu.