Magazine article Arts & Activities

Personal Still Life in a Box

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Personal Still Life in a Box

Article excerpt

Every year, I had the challenge of making my students' art personal. One way I accomplished this was by having my Art 2 Drawing and Painting students collect small, meaningful personal items, and arrange them for a still-life drawing.

I would plan ahead for this assignment by asking the vending-machine man to please save for me the flat, corrugated cardboard boxes that held the soda cans. One per student was needed. These boxes could be easily stored on top of cabinets or counters. They were portable in the classroom and could even be transported home, if necessary.

Before work began, students would write their names on the boxes in permanent black marker to easily identify their still lifes.

THE STUDENTS THEN ARRANGED their items in the box, using masking or duct tape to secure the items in place. The students then made three thumbnail sketches in their sketchbooks and selected the best view of their items.

They blocked out their still life on 12" x 18" sulphite paper, using contour line to draw the individual objects. After the entire still life was blocked in, the students would concentrate on adding in the details and values of the composition. I had them focus on the light source and cautioned them to seek the same position of the box on a daily basis. That way, the light source would be consistent.

The students started with the light values and ended with the dark values and cast shadows. We used blended shading with No. 2 pencils and ebony pencils. Adding contrast in values to their composition brought an ordinary drawing to a one that would delight the viewer. …

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