So often when children draw, they draw from their imagination.
Like elephants in pajamas,
or royal mice (a gift from my little artist friend, Olivia).
Sometimes they draw things from experience,
such as a synchronized swimmer's ballet leg, performed by my synchronized swimmer hundreds of times.
When Lori of Camp Creek Press began posting observational drawing art lessons back in February 2008, I jumped right in. For Valentine's Day, I bought my kids (and myself) a sketchbook, just for observational drawing. We sketched a few times, but my kids weren't thrilled about our little lessons.
Our interest in observational drawing was rekindled when George brought home a dead Io moth found in a parking lot one day.
Rather than all of us sitting down at once, I set up a comfortable drawing area in the living room, with the moth in the middle and the sketchbooks around it, and encouraged my kids to sit down when they had a chance and draw a picture of the moth.
This seemed to work much better than our previous attempts at observational drawing.
For our recent Neighborhood Math and Science meeting, I brought a basket of ordinary objects from around the house and made each of the children a little sketchbook out of card stock and blank paper. I heard a lot of "I can't draw that!" comments, but eventually they were drawing.
Some children spent the entire time working on one single drawing,
while others tried to draw every single item from the basket.
I encouraged the children to draw the items from different angles, notice small details (like the little hairs on the carrot), think about scale, and observe the shadows around the object.
A fellow parent even joined the fun and sketched a few objects. He commented that observational drawing takes a lot of patience and concentration. I agree, and I think that perhaps observational drawing is a good way to develop such skills, especially if they don't come naturally.
I kept one of the small sketchbooks for myself, and plan to keep it close by this summer and fill it up with my observations.
I'm beginning to remember how much I like to draw.