Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Continuous Line Drawing

I got the itch to do some continuous line drawing and after filling several pages in my sketchbook with drawings like the one below I decided to design a continuous line project for my Drawing 1 class.
I always do a short continuous line unit with my 7th graders but have never done anything like it with my 8th and 9th graders in Drawing 1. I started by choosing three basic images (a bike, the White House, and Abraham Lincoln) and having kids draw each image in pen (so they couldn't erase!) with three types of continuous line; the number one rule with each one, that I repeated over and over like a mantra, was 'don't lift your pen off the paper'.

1. Draw the object with your eyes closed
2. While focusing on a picture of the object, draw it without looking at your paper.
3. Draw the image, taking your time to look at both the picture provided and your paper.

After that exercise, which was really a lot of fun, I had the kids choose a portrait. I had pre-selected five men and five women who made important contributions to American history and culture (I guess I was in a patriotic mood that week). Each student had to draw the same portrait with continuous line four different ways: pen, fat tipped marker, holding four colored pencils at a time, and with a color stick (a super-fat colored pencil that does not have a wood casing).

Louis Armstrong

The final part of the project was to push the kids outside of their comfort zone even further and have them do a large portrait (18" x 24") in continuous line using their favorite material from the set of four drawings.
This one was done in pen. I love the rawness of this type of drawing.

One more example:

Mark Twain

I gave students the chance to refine their continuous line portrait after they had drawn it. I gave several examples of things they could do. I think this one turned out particularly nice because even though there are some colors and marker added it still has the frenetic look of a continuous line drawing.

One reason that I was excited to do this particular project was to push kids outside their comfort zones and to get them to try drawing in a completely different way than they ever had before. I had a few really resistant kids who really do not like leaving their level of comfort at all, but for the most part everyone seemed to be challenged and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I was happy with the results and saw several kids who were able to relax and not worry so much about the final product and enjoy the process a little bit more.

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