One of the first assignments for the year after reviewing the Elements of Art, was to spend some time practicing observation with 8th grade and high school graphics students. Students chose from any of the still life objects I brought from home or anything they could find or set up in the classroom. We probably spent about a week on these drawings starting with a contour drawing and then developing value through shading with pencil. This straight forward real life drawing helped me to gauge the students' observational skills, drawing abilities, and persistence. Allowing the students to choose WHAT they wanted to observe (real objects for this project, not photos) helped some be more engaged and was very practical as my classroom does not have a good set up for a central still life that all could observe.
An old cowboy boot was one of the most popular items to draw. It was set up in the middle of a crowded 8th grade table so it was drawn from many angles.
The lines may have been a bit warped on the tin can above, but I was impressed with the shading.
We had live models for part of the project- black swallowtail caterpillars!
Two students drew a stuffed animal Cat in the Hat.
Some dried starfish were great for practicing texture.
A few students set up blocks to draw.
Glass jars are always a challenge. A thermos from my collection was shaded with cross hatching.
Art tools and supplies can make good models for observation.
Another popular model was a deer skull I borrowed from a friend. There are a lot of challenges involved but students handled it pretty well.