Monday, May 19, 2014

creating cacti.

Last week my 4th graders were focused on making flat shapes turn into implied 3d volumes. I shared the work of British illustrator Joshua Wiley with them, as well as numerous photos of cacti from right here in San Diego. This provided a comparison between figurative abstract style and realistic style.
We also talked about what conditions cacti thrive in (not really in the climate of England), and lo and behold, the kids figured out that San Diego has a pretty sweet climate for cacti:)

Students identified that even though Joshua's cacti looked different, he still made some of them look somewhat 3d by using light and dark colors. 

Students were to practice drawing at least 3 cacti from the images on the smartboard screen, after that they were to make at least one small compositional sketch so that they had a spacing and size plan for their final, larger sheet of paper. Joshua's work was cool because it was less intimidating to observe and render than the photos. Students did not have to copy the examples, they could make changes and alter the cacti shapes if they chose to do so. I modeled how most of the cacti are made with ovals, some of which are long and thin, while others are short and thick.

When students started working on their larger drawings they could use chalk pastels and/or crayola colorsticks, which are like woodless colored pencils. I demonstrated how to work the chalk pastels to create smooth and rough textures.

Many students did not complete their large drawings last week, so they are finishing them up this week before they start on their next project. 

The next project happens to be a clay one. They created implied texture and volume in their drawings and they are making actual texture and volume when they create their clay cacti and pots. They can not start on their cay project until they have used light and dark on the cacti and pots in their drawings. The pressure is on, but they are getting them done... so far;)

clay cacti coming up!


  1. Really great! Love the color in the drawings. I had promised my 4th graders a clay cactus day and I haven't had room in my clay closet for more projects so we are doing a model magic version ... We'll see...

  2. I love the dark areas kids created in their work -- really makes the cacti stand out!!