How do you make the slow, tedious work of colored pencil drawing fast?
Last year, when I taught my Art 3 students a colored pencil Bootcamp, I didn't. We spent two weeks with prisma technique and producing finished work. The work was pretty and highly polished, but there was an over emphasis on realism. Many of my kids really, really wanted to make drawings that looked just like their photo references - even the kids who typically had a very different style.
This didn't sit well with me. I'd agreed when asked by my department to include colored pencil instruction in Art 3, so skipping this Bootcamp wasn't an option. This year, my goal was to make it better.
I had two things I wanted to accomplish:
Broaden students' view of success beyond representational work and shortening the timeframe to no more than a week.
One way I set about meeting my goal was introducing the work of two colored pencil artists; Marco Mazzoni and Lui Ferreyra, work pictured above. Examining and discussing their worked helped expand students' assumptions about what colored pencil work can and should look like. I wanted them to play around with different styles and to try something other than replicating an image perfectly.
I decide to start class with drawing tasks so short that my kids would have to draw without over thinking.
10 Minute Challenges
Day 1: Cup in arbitrary color.
Day 2: Plants. I had students select a palette of three colors first, then got out the plants to force them to "make it work".
Day 3 and 4: Word illustration. I handed out words on slips of paper as kids entered the room. They had 2 minutes to plan, then 10 minutes to draw. At the end groups switched tables and tried to match other groups images with the word they depicted. On day 4 I passed out the words again, only this time they had to illustrate the opposite of the word's meaning.
Colored pencil is not my favorite medium and realism is not my favorite style. However, some of my students like both. Many are doing very realistic drawings for their summative drawing for this Bootcamp, and that's fine, because they know that there are other options out there that are also valuable. I'm happy with how this Bootcamp turned out because it became more open and supported a range of styles. Plus, quite a few of my kids are taking lessons they learned in the 10 minute challenges and applying them, which goes to show that deep learning can quickly!
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.