Exercise Two: Contour Drawings
What you need: pencil, newsprint paper, timer, black and white watercolor paints, narrow and wide soft bristle brushes, clean jar, watercolor paper, water, drawing board or lap desk, masking tape, paper towels, palette, and two models.
Time Limit: No time limit
Lesson: Contour drawings enable students to “loosen up.” Looking at the figure and not the drawing forces the student to closely study the model. Contour drawings also reinforce the three-dimensionality of the human body even though the artist is drawing the figure on a flat surface.
Materials: pencil, newsprint paper
Project: Set the timer for three minutes. Draw a standing figure using one continuous line. Do not take your eyes off the model as you draw and do not lift your hand off the paper. Draw a seated figure in the same way, then a close-up of a face and finally, a group of two or more figures. Overlap them in some way: one can stand behind the other or one can lean into the face of the other. Keep on practicing by setting the timer for two minutes and draw the face and figure standing or siting in one continuous stroke; then set the timer for one minute and draw the face and figure as you did above.
Repeating these exercises will give you the confidence to draw the human form with accuracy over time.
Your figures will not look realistic; in fact, they may even look funny!
The craft NATURE PRINTS was adapted from the project “From the Yard/Nature Prints” found in All-Around-the-House Art and Craft Book by Patricia Z. Wirtenberg and published by Houghton Mifflin Company in1968
Leaves, bark, twigs
Printer’s inks or poster or acrylic paints in various colors (cheaper to use)
Drawing pencils (optional)
Rice or bond paper in white or various light colors (works best with poster/acrylic paints)
Brown wrapping paper or construction paper for use with printer’s inks
Brayer (or roller)
Piece of glass
Solvent for cleaning brayer and glass if using printer’s inks unless using water-soluble printer’s inks
- Collect fresh leaves from the trees or bushes in your neighborhood or yard. You will need some to experiment with and some for the last print. Other objects such as tree bark (if it’s easy to peel off) and even some twigs will work along with the leaves, too.
- Cover your work surface with newspaper. Lay down the glass and brayer on the work surface. Select the paints or inks that you will use. Acrylic or poster paints are less expensive than oil-based printer’s inks and easier to clean up after use.
- You can squeeze one color for each leaf or squeeze two or three colors side-by-side on the glass. The leaves in the samples shown used one or two or three colors at one time.
- Roll the paint or inks on the glass until the pigment covers the brayer. If you are using more than one color, let the colors run into each other. Roll the brayer over the leaf several times and turning the leaf over, lay it on a piece of paper like rice paper or bond paper. Use your hand to press the leaf so that it prints on the paper. Paper that is not too thick or too thin is the best to use if using acrylic or poster paints. Printer’s inks can use a slightly heavier paper like construction or brown wrapping paper.
- Remove the leaf and see how it printed on the paper. Experiment until you have a print that you like. Experiment with other materials from nature combined with the leaves.
- To create a mixed media design, color the whites of the leaves or the background paper or outline the printed leaves with colored pencils. See the two samples below.
- Frame the print or using old note card stationery, make note cards or poster cards of the printed leaves. They make a thoughtful gift for people who still write notes!
Make a sun print! Make sure you do this on a sunny day! Choose the objects you will use as the main design of the print. Objects like leaves, twigs, bark, seashells, and pebbles work well. Lay the objects that you choose on photographic, construction or drawing paper on a surface in a sunny location. The longer you leave it there, the deeper an impression your objects will make on the paper. Leave the objects and paper in the sun for four hours minimum. Remove the objects. You now have a sun print! Use the sun print for the nature collage tutorial or frame it and hang the print on your bedroom wall.