Children need to time to develop and practise their sketching skills and these simple ideas from Sophie Merrill are a great starting point
As a drawing warm-up, place an object in front of the children and give them only one minute to draw it. Everyone needs to start and finish at the same time. Some children will say they have finished before the time elapses – encourage them to look more closely at shading, texture and any other added details. Often children will draw what they think they can see. Their brain fills in the gaps of what they ‘know’ the object looks like.
Drawing with your non-dominant hand encourages concentration and control. It works best with a strict time frame and is about freeing up the flow of drawing. Some pupils will get frustrated by the fact that their work doesn’t look ‘perfect’. However, if you model this with the children and they see how all the drawings look different, it can be quite good fun.
Many students find drawing on a large scale quite a challenge – we’ve all seen those tiny drawings in the centre of a page which you need a magnifying glass to see properly. Join two A2 sheets together and tie a graphite stick to a cane. Pin the paper to the wall or lay it on the floor then ask pupils to stand and draw on the paper, holding the stick at length.
This activity makes the children realise that every line and mark needs to be considered. Ask children to draw on white paper with a candle or a white oil pastel. This will involve completing a drawing without being able to see the finished result. Once they are happy they have considered shape, form, texture and tone, paint over the drawing with tea, thinned down paint, watercolours or inks. This can produce some very beautiful effects.
Children need to learn that different drawing materials produce different kinds of line. They won’t be able to control the materials in the same way, so may have to alter the way they draw in order to produce the desired effect. Ask them to recreate the same object in a range of different mediums, such as pencil, biro, fine liner or graphite stick. They’ll realise that the biro behaves in a similar way to a pencil, allowing you to build up areas of light and dark. They will have to up the size of their drawing with the graphite, while the fine liner will produce a very flat, solid line.
Who says that children have to draw with something found in the art cupboard? Take them outside and ask them to collect sticks – you want a variety of lengths and thicknesses. These can be dipped in Indian ink and used to create some really interesting and beautiful drawings.
Ask the children to use masking tape to create different sections in their sketchbooks. Some might be larger or smaller than others, or even different shapes. Next, encourage them to draw inside these created spaces. The only stipulation is that the drawing must fill the section. This helps them to see how a series of drawings can work together on one page and how best to arrange and compose a series of drawings.
Drawing on white paper can be rather scary. Experiment with drawing on different surfaces. Cartridge paper feels different to draw on compared to photocopier paper and will react to your chosen medium differently. Try sketching on newspaper, old book pages, envelopes, wallpaper, sandpaper or brown parcel paper. Children could even bring in materials that they would like to try working on.