Thursday, March 17, 2016

FOURTH GRADE . . . Zen Horses!

Zentangle Horse by Shaya
Fourth graders created these wonderful line drawings of horses in art. With all the busy patterns we used to fill our horses it was important that the silhouette of the animal be recognizable. To draw a realistic outline of a horse, we experimented with a few drawing techniques in class. One technique had us all laughing. We tried to draw a horse without looking at our papers (see next post below). The horses were remarkably accurate and many resemble the quick gesture drawings of Picasso! Then we flipped the horses upside down. This technique sounds strange, but it allowed us to see with the most accuracy. Once our outline was complete we were ready to tackle the small patterns that filled the space.

Our animals are filled with line patterns called Zentangles, a fancy word for a doodle that is formed with repetitive strokes. Zentangles are meant to be a peaceful exercise as the word "zen" implies. Once you decide to draw a certain type of line or a swirl, you simply repeat it a few times. You do not have to constantly make new decisions, just enjoy the art of repeating the lines you draw and the overall pattern they create.

Zentangles could be considered a modern form of doodling, but detailed line patterns can be traced back in time to the decorative artwork of ancient cultures.

During the Medieval age, designs like these were used in manuscript illuminations, such as seen on the pages of the Book of Kells, an illuminated Gospel book written in Latin.

Here are some of our beautiful Zentangle horses for you to marvel at! To see all of our work, click on this link for

Zentangle Horse by Maggie

Zentangle Horse by Starlette

Zentangle Horse by Balkan

Zentangle Horse by Gabrielle

Zentangle Horse by Hunter

FOURTH GRADE . . . Drawing upside down and without looking!

Blind contour drawing by  Maddie

Fourth graders were asked to draw an outline of a horse. To get the outline of the animal drawn accurately, we tried out a couple of fun artist tricks. Can you tell that Maddie's drawing is a horse? Not only can we see the animal, but it looks like it is full of movement!

Blind Contour drawing by Nico

Blind Contour drawing by Mason
To do these blind contour drawings, we never looked at our drawing papers. We were given a marker--not a pencil--since there was no need to erase and correct something that we could not see. A silhouette of the horse was projected on the board and we used our eyes to travel around the animal, taking in all the curves and angles of the outline. The marker recorded on paper the journey that our eyes were taking around the animal. If these were done correctly, (without peeking!) the beginning of our line would not line up with the end as we cannot see where we started.

Another strange exercise we tried was to draw our horses upside down. Why would an artist want to draw upside down? I did not suggest that we stand on our heads . . . but to draw an image that is turned around. It is a challenge to see all the fine details of an image correctly. Drawing this way can trick your eyes into observing more of the details of the picture.

When you look at a picture of a horse the regular way, your mind invariably takes over as you are drawing and you tend to draw what you remember how a horse looks, not as shown in the picture in front of you. The image of the horse in your mind probably has an four thin legs as all horses do. But are you really seeing those legs as they appear in the picture, with all the angles and the lines?

Now look at this upside down picture of a horse. By turning the image around, we transform the horse into a random picture filled with angles and shapes. It is much easier to notice how to draw the legs this way. Even the negative space in between the legs is easier to see and helps us place the legs in the right position and with the correct angles.

These exercises were challenging for us to do. The more we trick our minds into seeing the world in a different way, the more we can observe the world through the eyes of an artist.