Introductory Observational Drawing:
Observational drawing is a powerful way for children to heighten their attention to detail, and closely inspect any number of subjects/objects (primarily still life). It gives a child the ability to explore and refine their drawing skills slowly over time.
The basics you need for any age beginning with observational drawing are:
– pencil (and sharpener)
– object to draw
Without too much direction, emphasize the element of observation and detail.
Remember that observational drawing is a learned skill, so give it time. Try to comment on the detail and effort that has gone into your child’s drawing, rather than missed details or an arbitrary ‘great job’ response.
Model the expectation and acceptance of mistakes. Remember to place emphasis on practicing and trying – not perfecting.
Helpful beginner tips:
- The simpler, the better, initially.
- Resist directing the child’s work.
- Make drawing a habit. Draw with your child.
- Display the drawing afterward.
- Optional (but often very helpful): expand on the representation with other creative mediums.
The simpler, the better:
This goes for drawing materials, the surroundings and the object to draw.
Begin with pencil only and work through different mediums before adding colour. Try to keep the focus, particularly initially, on detailing the items shapes and perspective.
The drawing materials we choose will elicit certain kinds of thinking from the children. (click above source for more reading)
It’s not about creating realistic, perfect representations. To me, it’s about practicing the skills required to draw representations. This has many uses throughout life and is something that is often overlooked as a helpful ‘language’ to express thoughts, ideas and learning.
Give your child a simple art portfolio that is specifically for drawing. Not necessarily just observational drawing; any manner of drawing (i.e. free drawing, imaginative drawing and drawings about experiences they have had).
With the object, it’s always best for the child to lead the way and to choose a item of interest which appeals to something they are interested in at the time. Always attempt to start with simpler items and display them simply. Choose clear containers for items that require containers, and mirrors to help the children to view all angles.
Displaying observational drawings:
I think it is important to either a) keep a journal of observational drawings for a child (and their parent/adult!) to reflect on over time and/or b) display the drawings and representations in an attractive and accessible way (for the same purpose).
Here, it appears that they have used matchboxes to display natural specimens with small drawings on the top. Unfortunately, the source doesn’t say anything about it and just shares the photo, but it is beautiful and a meaningful way of displaying works.
Something similar (and easier in some instances) is to take a photo of the object and display the drawing alongside it.
I love this kit from Mama May I on Etsy
Expand on the representation with other creative mediums:
- Consider photocopying the original drawing and colouring it in (with any number of materials – pencils, pastels, markers, watercolour paints, etc)
- Create a different 2D representation of the same object (with other drawing materials, or paint, wire, yarn, printing, etc. The possibilities are numerous)
- Perhaps create a 3D representation (the medium determined by the object – clay? wire? recyclables? blocks?)
- Set up an observational drawing 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 have missed a day, here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series.