Overview:

In this lesson, student artists are introduced to totem animals: animals that guide or protect. The decide to draw a portrait of either themselves or a loved one as an animal. In this first lesson they roughly draw their chosen animals on a large piece of paper.

Students will be able to:
  • create two-four compositional sketches.
  • draw large.
  • choose a totem animal that has characteristics similar to the portrait subject.
  • draw the basic shapes of their animal.

 

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Setup:

Students will be working independently.

Have materials set up in a way that is easy to pass out, see, and select from.

Materials:

Media:

  • N/A

Handouts & Photocopies:

Lesson 1

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.

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.

  • First draw sketches to test the compositions. Make sure students understand these should be very quick—they should just be testing out where things can go on the paper. They can stop after two sketches if they find one that they like, but they can make up to four.

  • It is o.k. if students want to include more than one totem animal to make a family portrait, or include portraits of their friends.

  • Show the packets and tell them that they can draw animals that they already have in their mind, but if they want help thinking of one, the packets have some photos of animals and the characteristics NW Indigenous people generally ascribed to them.

  • Draw the final drawing large and loose. Don’t worry about details. Remind students that they will be painting, so details will get lost.

 

20-25M, WORKTIME

FOCUS ON GETTING THE KIDS EXCITED ABOUT AND FLESHING OUT THEIR ANIMAL


 

The students work independently on their work as the teacher circulates. Foster strong work habits by commenting on student artists who are focused on their work as well as student artists who seem to be pushing themselves to try new things.

At this point, student artists are first deciding on their (or a loved one’s) animal, At this point, walk around and focus the conversation on WHY they are choosing the animal that they are—what qualities do they see similar in themselves (or their loved one?).

Afterwards, when they are drawing their sketches, encourage them to go to different extremes; if they do a close up sketch, encourage them to do another sketch that shows the entire animal. The idea is to get them to make an informed decision about their composition. 

Finally, they should be re-drawing their composition large on a sheet of paper. Remind them not to do details, just to get the basic shapes or parts down.

 

 

 

 

 

5-10M, CLEAN-UP/PRESENTATIONS

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.

ANTICIPATED PROBLEMS

  • Students may begin to draw the photos of the animals directly from the sheets, copying the composition. This is o.k. for one or two, but encourage them to think about their own compositions.
  • If it seems like students are drawing their compositions too slowly to move on to drawing large, give them a time warning. Remind them that the composition sketches should be quick—they can even draw circles to indicate where things are rather than including any details. Make sure they have at least 10 minutes for the final drawing—even if this means setting a timer and having the composition sketches done at a certain time. Some classes will have no trouble with time, so simply monitor and place a time restriction as needed. 
  • Monitor students to make sure they are drawing large—they should be using as much space as makes sense to their composition. 
  • Drawing background details or an environment (when done with the animals!) is ok! As long as the shapes are big.  

 

EARLY FINISHERS

Early finishers can flip their drawing over and on the back write down who they are making a portrait of, what animal they chose, and why.

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