Students are introduced (or reintroduced) to the Drawing ABC’s—elements that, when combined, can be used to draw anything. They draw along with the video as they learn how to put these elements together and create an image.
Students then create a ‘Deck of Symbols’ that introduces them to 13th-16th century symbology (the focus of the remainder of the lessons). They work individually or in very small groups off a reference sheet, and copy the symbols into the appropriate section using the Drawing ABCs. The symbols grow increasingly complex. Students can finish the cards at home if they don’t complete them during the class period, but the deck of cards is just a warm-up, so they don’t need to return the cards if they remain incomplete.
Students will be able to:
- name the five elements that make up the Drawing ABCs
- find the five elements in the real world
- use the five elements to draw an iconic image
- use the five elements to break down and copy an image.
Students will be working independently.
Have materials set up in a way that is easy to pass out, see, and select from.
Be prepared to hand out the Trading Card Sheet and scissors during the video instructions..
- Coloring supplies of choice
Handouts & Photocopies:
- Trading card sheet with symbols (one per student), corresponding drawing instructions (one per student, or have them work in pairs) Note: There are multiple ‘Decks’, so students will be working on a diverse array of symbols
- Drawing ABC sheet for reference
- Optional: Scavenger sheet (see lesson)
10M, INSPIRATION IMAGE
LOOK AND DISCUSS AN ART PIECE THAT INTRODUCES SOME OF THE LESSON CONCEPTS
Project the inspiration image where students can see it. Give students a moment to study it silently, then begin a brief discussion with the phrase, “What can we find?”. Paraphrase what students say for the benefit of the class, being careful to remain neutral, then ask “What else can we find?”. Alternately, allow them to draw or write what they notice on a blank piece of paper or in a sketchbook.
- Jan van Eyck, ‘St. Jerome in his Study’, 1432.
- Artists who lived and worked in European countries during the 13-16th centuries used pictures to tell stories or relay a message. In a painting, the artist could convey something about the subject she was painting by placing a symbolic object near him or her. For example, in this picture, the lion indicates someone who has a lot of power.
Note on using the information above: As your students participate in a conversation around this artwork, it may occasionally be helpful to provide them with additional or contextual information. This information can and should be imparted at the teacher’s discretion.
The point of this discussion time is to have students learn and add onto each other’s thoughts. By remaining neutral and simply repeating what students say you allow students to do the heavy mental lifting and also create an environment where there is no wrong answer, fostering creativity and mental risk-taking.
5M, INTRODUCTION VIDEO
WATCH THE INTRODUCTION VIDEO & CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING
Check for understanding by asking, “Who was listening closely that can sum up what we are doing today?” Make sure that student artists can list all the steps and clarify anything that needs clarifying.
FOCUS ON STUDENTS BREAKING COMPLEX DRAWINGS AND OBJECTS INTO THE FIVE ELEMENTS
The students can work on the Deck of Symbols independently, although they are welcome to help each other out. Encourage a certain level of ‘students teaching students’, as it will help them articulate the different drawing elements.
The goal of this lesson is to have students able to recognize the five elements, and to use them when they are drawing their own drawings. As students progress, it is important that they are able to break a drawing or object down into smaller components (they will become much less frustrated). Therefore, focus conversation on how students are problem solving; have them explain the five elements, and when they are drawing have them walk you through how they are recognizing and putting the five elements together. Focus your conversation on helping them recognize the process of breaking down a whole into parts.
STUDENTS PRESENT WORKS IN PROGRESS AND DISCUSS THE ARTISTIC DECISIONS THAT THEY MADE
Sharing should work as follows:
- Student stands by their work. A teacher should hold it, or place it on an easel.
- The student presents their work, answering What they made, How they made it, and Why they made the decisions that they did. When they are done they ask, “Any comments or questions?” and can take responses from the audience.
- A note on responses: it is o.k. if an audience member questions or wants clarification from the artist. It is also o.k. if an audience member makes suggestions. But it must be done in a kind, thoughtful, and respectful way.
- Always end the conversation by asking the class to give the artist a compliment.
Depending on the teacher’s style of classroom management, it might be helpful to only choose and train a few kids to clean. The rest of the class can be busy with the presentation. Make sure to train these helpers well in advance so that you aren’t left with a messy room.
Clean-up times will vary with materials; get to know your class and allow 5-10 minutes depending on how efficient they are and whether or not the material was messy.
Student artists might become overwhelmed with some of the more complex drawings. Take some paper and physically cover up the drawing they are copying, showing only one small piece. Have them copy just that small piece (and name what element it is!), then move the paper so that they only see one more small piece.
Early finishers should color, decorate, and make their Deck of Symbols unique
This project is free to access, but after the first lesson, you will have to create a free account and enroll in the course. After you create an account and enroll, the project can be accessed from the ‘artroom’ tab at the top of the page.