Sunday, November 17, 2019

8th grade Hand Observations

Teaching 8th graders to draw their hands from observation is one of my favorite growth measures. There are a lot of connections to art history like Leonardo's studies and the Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, plus we know that learning to observe and really look at something is a skill that carries over into other non-art areas. Hands are something that most kids assume they "can't" draw and avoid, so teaching them that with practice they CAN learn these drawing skills help them to see that you can grow and improve in art- it's not just something you're born with or not.

I am always blown away from the growth we see in this unit. I start by asking the students to draw their hands from observation with no help as a pre-assessment. Next, we spend a couple of days doing "drawing on the right side of the brain" exercises like blind contour, continuous line, and non-dominant hand drawings to get the students to slow down and look carefully. Truthfully, those drawings stress some students out so I always emphasize that it's not about it how the drawing looks, it's about how YOU are looking.
After that, I draw my hand to demonstrate different techniques for measurement and comparison to get proportions correctly. I talk about what I'm looking at as I draw. The students spend a day or sometimes two working on a contour line drawing of one of their hands, however they would like to pose it, before I demonstrate rendering techniques. 
This year the students were especially into their drawings and wanted to really push the creativity so we updated the rubric for the growth measure to include creativity.
When the hand drawings are complete, we switch gears and observe our hands in three dimensions by sculpting them out of clay. The technique we use is 1:1, starting with a slab of clay about as thick as your hand, tracing, and then carving away to match what you observe.
Most students chose to stain their hands with red iron oxide but they were also free to use glaze or oil pastels and India Ink.
Here are the 2D and 3D hands in the display case!

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