Drawing 101: 5 Strategies for Teaching Students to Draw

English: An array of colored pencils, these pe...

Colored Pencils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For students, drawing can be a great way to express their ideas, beliefs, and personal experiences. Unfortunately, not every one quite knows how. Indeed, while many students take to drawing by instinct, others have more difficulty. Whether you love drawing yourself or simply would like to help your students nurture their creativity, here are some strategies you can use to teach effective drawing.

1) Break It Down

One of the most helpful ways to teach students to draw is to break the process down into pieces, discussing the individual steps involved in creating a specific kind of drawing. If students are observing an object and preparing to draw it, for instance talk about the various parts of the object; if the object were an apple, you could discuss how it is made up of curved lines, it’s stem is typically straight, that It has a shine to it, as well as a particular color. This kind of discussion can help to make the whole process more manageable, allowing students to create the object by focusing on it’s component parts.

2) Don’t Show Them How

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s very important. Avoid having your students copy other works of art, whether yours or those of professional artists. Asking them to base their artwork off of others assumes that the original is “right,” when in reality, no piece of art is wrong. It also encourages copying rather than creating. If your students want an example, which they likely will when feeling frustrated, remind them that nothing they draw will be wrong, that it’s just their personal interpretation.

3) Don’t Draw for Them

Avoid drawing on students’ paper or erasing or correcting their work. To the student, correcting their work is tantamount to saying that what they did was wrong. It also encourages students to favor the work of the “expert” rather than their own creations.

4) Encourage Experimentation

Rather than focusing on the end results of students’ drawing efforts, encourage them to experiment. Having them draw in various styles and explore different techniques will open them up to new ideas and ways of expressing themselves. While a student may not succeed at or be satisfied with drawing a still life in pencil, for example they may find that charcoal landscapes or impressionist watercolor scenes are right up their alley.

5) Encourage Practice

Drawing is a skill, not a talent. Even adults who claim they “can’t draw” could greatly improve if they put some effort into learning. Like math or soccer or cursive, drawing requires practice. Remind your students of this frequently, and encourage them to believe that they can do it. Just a change in perspective and a little extra effort will help them achieve things they never thought possible.

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Nona Taut

Nona Taut is Sales Director for Makit Products, located in Dallas, Texas.

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