“There is strong shadow where there is much light.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
For the past two weeks, we’ve been looking at the way light falls on an object and trying to capture it in a drawing with pencil on paper.
Our focus on drawing is directly influenced by the celebration of the Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870 and the opportunity to submit drawings to a statewide celebration. You can read all about the Drawing Act in this post from March 16, 2020: Drawing Act 150: Let’s Celebrate. At the time of the post, we had just been released from school for what we thought was a two week quarantine due to the rise in incidents of Covid-19. Since then, schools have been closed through the end of the school year. Despite this shift, the Drawing Act Coalition, with the leadership of House Representative Mary Keefe (Worcester) and MassArt Chief of Staff Susana Segat, continues to meet to entertain ways to adapt, revise, and continue the celebration. At this time, entries are still being accepted via email. Because my students have school iPads at home, the Drawing Act unit is still viable. And so we soldier on.
For a couple of weeks, early in the time of remote learning, students copied the drawings of Walter Smith, who (literally) wrote the book on drawing instruction. This is the video I released to students to introduce the lesson and share information about the Drawing Act and Walter Smith: Drawing Instruction
At that point, ALL assignments were optional, so I know not all students participated in the lesson, although many did. Here are a few examples of the work that was submitted:
We took a break from the Drawing Act unit during Week 5 of remote learning – the week before April vacation – to lighten things up with the Make A Chicken project. Once we returned from vacation (staycation) and were energized and ready to get back to the business of drawing, I shared the skill builder lesson video with my students for How to Draw and Shade a Sphere. In teaching remotely, we are limited to the assign/submit method of instruction rather than the casual over-the-shoulder glance at student artwork during class in the physical classroom. We also have limited opportunities for communication. Normally, in a unit such as this one on Drawing, kids would enter the classroom and take sketchbooks from the class bins, read a prompt on the white board and start sketching. This is when those over-the-shoulder glances are so important, both as checks for understanding and as formative assessments. Then we’d move on to direct instruction in the form of a 5 minute demo with the document camera while all looked on. It’s at that point, currently, where remote learning begins, without the benefit of the “bell ringer” or warm up exercise. The video above replaces the 5 minute demo in remote learning, except it isn’t in person AND there’s no “ask me a question” opportunity. Despite the physical disconnect, my students did well with the assignment. Some chose to blend with a tissue or their fingers. Here are two of the 100+ spheres turned in to the Draw and Shade a Sphere assignment:
During week seven of remote learning, I shared the video Light On White as an introduction to the lesson. The goal was for students to explore the way light falls on a white surface and the grays that are created by multiple geometric planes receiving the light at different angles. As you can see in the video, I offered the idea of folding paper with origami and sketching it, or randomly folding paper and sketching a less organized subject. I wanted it to be open to individual creativity (always) while exposing all students to the concepts of value, shading, and light. As you can see in the artwork below, there is a nice range of organized and random paper foldings. You can also view these artworks on Artsonia here. If you click on one of the photos below, you can view the gallery as a slideshow.
During the week that my students were working on this project, I invited them to join me for a half hour virtual class to fold paper with origami. Electives class live sessions are optional in our district, so I was happy to some have kids attend the sessions. Although I originally invited them to make paper cranes or to show me how to make something, I came across an easy way to make Baby Yoda with origami.
That option met with universal approval. We had a lot of laughs and bantered back and forth, yet made some pretty sweet Baby Yodas!