Thursday, October 8, 2015

Drawing Leaves with Sticks

 Fiona, 2nd Grade

Mia, 2nd Grade

 Maggie, 3rd Grade

 Ella, 2nd Grade

 Calvin, 3rd Grade
Always my "experimental" artist and risk taker - :)

Abby, 3rd Grade

Kate, Kindergarten

Izzy, 1st Grade

Works in progress

 Sharpened sticks for ink drawing

When I was in high school, one of the first assignments our art teacher gave us was to go outside and find a stick shorter than a ruler. We were intrigued to say the least. After our sticks were sharpened, we were given India ink and given lots of contour/observational drawing assignments. Over the next few weeks we drew everything from nature, to shoes and backpacks to faces from National Geographic magazines, all with just sticks and ink on "typing" paper (this was the 80's). What a great foundation for me as an artist. Not having the ability to erase and having to draw so many things, helped me not worry about making things perfect and just focus on drawing what I saw. Why I haven't tried this with my students before now is beyond me. It gives line drawings a wonderful quality as the line thickness varies. It's perfectly imperfect. 

My Observational Art Lab students had a variety of leaves to observe and draw for their mixed media pieces. I had my younger ones trace their leaves and then observe and draw the veins. They turned their paper around and drew leaves in every direction, filling their paper. I decided to let them really play with media and offered oil and chalk pastels, bleeding tissue and watercolors, encouraging them to experiment with different combinations.


  1. Now this is my kind of project!!! Love it!!

    1. Thanks Christie! It was really nice to take a break from directed drawing/painting lessons and let the kids be in complete charge of their art.

  2. This was an awesome idea! It worked great with 4-6 yr olds. We used permanent markers to trace the leaves just because i was a little leary about ink. But the water colors and pastels worked great! We then focused on one leaf after they finished and did a fine line around the edges with a gold glitter
    writer! They were so pleased!

    1. They sound wonderful! I like the idea of highlighting one leaf with glitter. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Mary! I love your Sheep in Winter lesson! How do you direct the students in drawing the sheep face? What are the directions? Do you do a step by step tutorial with them? Thank you for sharing!


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