"We don't expect all children to become poets or novelists or essayists, but we teach all children to read and write because we want them to be confident, expressive communicators. Similarly, we don't expect all children to become professional artists, making their living through painting or sculpture. We do, however, teach children how to use a range of art media so that they may communicate their ideas, experiences, emotions, questions, and insights in many languages. And, we want children to know beauty, creativity, and expressive emotion."
(Pelo, Ann. The Language of Art, pg. 3)
Over the past four years, thirty minutes has been set aside once a week for a period called Sketching Time. During Sketching Time, the children are introduced to new art techniques, the use of new art materials, and are provided with a guided modeled lesson to support their understanding and learning.
For the past month, the children have been learning and practicing how to best sketch their friends. Using a pencil and working in their individual sketch books, the children became more aware of lines and shapes. With encouragement, the children started to become more comfortable looking closely at their friend's features and sketching what they saw. In their first attempt at sketching, children were made aware of the elements that were missing, e.g., eye lashes, ears, short/long hair, etc. Once their pencil drawing was complete, the children learned that using a sharpie to trace over their pencil marks highlighted their sketch and drew attention to the lines and contours used. Introducing colour by using water colour paints involved another guided lesson. The children learned about using only certain colours that they saw reflected in their friend's features. Blending and colour mixing were other important skills learned as the children soon realized that some of the colours they needed were not found in their paint selection.
In the classroom, many items are sorted by some attribute including the paint brushes. Sorted by the size of the bristle I've noticed encourages the children to make more thoughtful selections when creating. During another guided lesson, the children experimented with the various brush sizes allowing them to become familiar with the type of marking they produce. For the friendship sketching project, the children practiced using the various brush sizes and learned the technique of dipping the brush into the water, wiping it on the side of the jar, then proceeding to dab it into the water colour of choice. Depending on the feature they were painting, they became more confident in choosing the appropriate brush size needed.
As mentioned, the children have individual sketch books. These books are used to practice particular art techniques and using new art materials. The children have used oil and chalk pastels, water colour pencils, pasel pencils, charcoal, water colour and acrylic paints, and sharpies. Sketching Time is not only necessarily about sketching. During this time the children have also had the opportunity to explore plasticine and clay, wire, and natural materials to produce art.
Below are a few snapshots of the children working on their friendship sketches.
"Art explorations are rich experiences for children. They inspire scientific investigation, as children seek to understand the qualities and uses of an art medium. They spark collaboration and strengthen relationships among children, as children share discoveries, coach each other about strategies to try with an art medium, and work together on a creation. They demand focused attention and physical finesse. They stir the senses and emotion, delighting eyes, hands, and heart."
(Pelo, Ann. The Language of Art, pg. 13)