Artists in grades three and four reach a significant turning point in their artistic development. They are developing genuine understanding of the properties, qualities, and processes of creating art that matches the growing complexity of their ideas about the world. Artists in grades three and four demonstrate a solid command of the tools and materials and attention to craftsmanship becomes more important in their representations. Students are gaining confidence and competence in their artistic abilities and retain the joy and excitement of discovery making art brings to them.

In order to acquire more formal and independent understanding of the language of art, the organizational and expressive possiblities of mateirals need to intersect with the curiosity, imagination, and experiences of the artist. Students need to be challenged to explore the multiple possibilities of the materials as they create representations of their experiences that incorporate information derived from what they see, what they know, what they understand, and how they feel. These young artists are using higher order thinking skills as they are integrating different aspects of their experiences in ore comprehensive and complex conceptions of self and world.

-- excerpt from Brookline Visual Arts Learning Expectations

Past Assignments:

Figure Drawing:

As the above excerpt states, fourth grade is an important time in artistic development. Students need to learn ways of realistically drawing the world around them to avoid feeling frustrated with their developing drawing skills. For that reason, the fourth graders are learning ways of drawing the figure that help to strengthen observation skills and eventually translate to being able to draw the figure as it appears as opposed to how it is perceived. One of these ways is by doing blind contour drawings. Blind contour drawing involves looking only at the subject and not at all at the paper, and using a continuous line to represent the figure. This kind of drawing focuses only on the edges of the shapes and not on shading or other details, almost like a silhouette. The point of this exercise is to train the students to look extremely carefully at the subject and to improve hand-eye coordination. In the art studio, students used white oil pastels on white paper to help them focus on only the person posing. After all the drawings were completed a watercolor wash was applied to the paper, causing the blind contour drawings to appear.
An example of blind contour drawings done in white oil pastel and then washed with watercolor.

A blind contour drawing done in pencil.

After blind contour, the students moved on to a method of drawing the figure in action using ovals and circles. The ovals represent the major bones or features of the body (head, upper arm, lower arm, etc) and the circles represent joints (shoulder, elbows, knees, etc). The fourth graders had a great time posing for one another. This exercise is designed to help students understand how the body moves and to help them draw the figure in a natural, realistic way.
The inspiration for our circle and oval figure in action drawings.

The next step will be combining these figure drawing skills with an assignment based on the work of E.B. Lewis, an illustrator who recently came to speak at Lincoln. The fourth graders learned that Mr. Lewis illustrates stories by setting up movie-like sets complete with models in costume to act out the action happening in the story. Mr. Lewis takes pictures of the models and gathers any other images he may need from the library or the internet, and then combines all of those images into one watercolor illustration. The fourth graders will experience working this way as they illustrate their own stories. Look for the finished pieces on display toward the end of the year!