I tell my students that line is the simplest of all the elements of art, but it is also the most versatile. An artist can create depth, pattern, movement, texture, focal points, value, and shape by manipulating line in some way.
So, the 5th graders used hands as their subject and the 4th graders used shoes. After discussing what line can do in art and demonstrating doing a contour line drawing from observation, I let the students try it out. With this age you are bound to get some resistance from those that "can't do it", but the empphasis should be on trying to get their drawing hand and their eyes to work together. Stuff like this develops hand-eye coordination.
I tell them that they just can't pick up an instrument and play beautifully, they can't just pick up a bat and be Tony Gwynn. They need to practice. That's what most of the first lesson for both grades was- practice. In order to make natural looking shapes look real and 3d on paper, you have to pay close attention to the contour edges- the irregularities that are present, the wrinkles and folds that are there. All that information is what will make something look real on a flat surface.
Before moving on to the good side of the paper, I discussed the importance of balancing the things in the picture with the empty space. This positive and negative shape relationship is crucial to the success of an artwork's composition. The shapes may be drawn incredibly well, but if they are drawn too small in big, empty space, the image will not be satisfying to the viewer.
Their task was to draw 3 or 4 of those items in a way that they each touched a side of their paper, and they were big enough to make all parts of the paper have some interest. When they were done with the object drawings, the students then filled in the empty spaces with patterns of colored lines. This way they could use line in a decorative way that contrasted against the realism of the objects.
1. practice drawing from observation
2. draw at least 3 of the items on good paper, with each touching an edge of the paper
3. trace the contour lines with a black marker
4. add colored line patterns to the background
I used a lesson I found on the Incredible Art Lessons site as the starting point of this project. Instead of text in the background I opted fort the line patterns. This site is a wealth of information for anyone interested in planning art lessons.