Monday, September 10, 2012


Value Scale Chart
This summer, I have had the privilege of teaching one of my youngest students yet. He is 7 years old, and has wanted to know how to draw and make things look real for a couple of years now. In particular, he wanted to learn how to draw dragons. 

I agreed to take him as a student for my normal 6 lessons' duration, but twice a week instead of once a week, in order to finish up before the school year progressed too far. I sent him photos of some things we could work on, but he chose a picture I had taken in Mexico of a "dragon" iguana. I really felt this would be a huge challenge for a 7 year old, and that it would definitely test whether my teaching methodology could work with a child so young.

After learning that all things can be defined and drawn with certain shapes, we began to learn the value scale. As you can see above, the student understood and could reproduce the varying shades of value quite well. But what thrilled me was that I could ask him what value a certain part of an object or photo was, and he would give me the correct value every time. It was something he understood intrinsically.
shading begins on the line drawing
 The creature was too difficult for the child to draw, especially within the time frame we had, so we traced a line drawing, making sure we had the main lines so that we could locate landmark features. This took quite a bit of time as this iguana is quite complex. For a 7 year old, this little guy stuck to it and was surprised when each hour and a half lesson was over! Engagement was never a problem!

Here you can see the beginning of the shading process. I ask him to tell me what value we should put in various areas, and then we do the shading according to what he was seeing as the value - which was correct each time! The reason for the piece of paper which is hiding the rest of the drawing is so that his hand and arm do not smudge the paper where he is working over it.

And here is where we ended our 5th lesson...he is  assessing value and shape, and reproducing it extremely well. It has taken quite a bit of time to get this much done on the head, but he is meticulously and takes great pride in doing well. As we work, we continue to repeat the steps that we have taken to create the light and the shadow, with the middle values in between. And he continues to understand better and better what it takes to make something look 3 dimension, like it actually has form which is coming off the page, so to speak.  I am sure we won't finish this drawing in the last lesson, but it is the process that counts right now. 

Could he draw this creature on his own from scratch? Not yet. But given another year or so of lessons, I am sure he would surprise all of us with what he could accomplish - especially as his passion and desire to draw is so strong. I love to see the spark of creativity light in each of my students! It is so exciting for me as a teacher to have the honor of helping to enable each student to achieve a part of their dreams.   :-)  My new set of lessons starts next week. I have a few spaces open, so if you or your child (in the Calgary area) are interested in taking drawing or painting lessons from me, please contact me:         

On the drawing board: head of the dragon partially completed

1 comment:

renate said...

Hello Joanne:) So to see he must be very talented. Like to see another update later! Very intersting:)