Partner Drawing Activity
I came across this really fun partner drawing activity called Bilateral Mirror Drawing on instagram from @artofteaching (Mrs.Moen). The activity is inspired by artist Heather Hansen who uses her body to make beautiful and often symmetrical charcoal drawings. I saved Mrs.Moen's original post and made a note that I really wanted to try this with my new Foundations Studio Art students when the second semester started.
I typically start the class with an Exquisite Corpse drawing activity but I wanted to mix it up and try something new.
I did some research online into this "Mirroring" drawing activity and found a blog post by Shine Brite Zamorano, from Zamorano Fine Arts Academy in San Diego, a K-5 Elementary school, detailing the process of creating a Bilateral Mirror Drawing and it even included a video which was really helpful in understanding the process.
I decided to plan out this activity as part of a larger discussion about the Elements of Art and as an opening activity for our upcoming abstract art project: Quilts of Gee's Bend inspired collages.
Setting Up Partner Drawing Activity
To set up this activity I cut 19" X 25" pastel paper in half to give me 19" X12.5" sheets, the type of paper I have on hand is this Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper. I only had dark blue and green and I thought the darker colors would look great with lighter colored pastels.
I set up a materials table with the papers and a variety of chalk pastels, oil pastels and charcoal. I also tore several small pieces of blue painters tape so that students could tape their papers to the tables.
To introduce the activity I showed students the work of artist Heather Hansen who uses her body to make symmetrical drawings with charcoal. I also had them practice the bilateral movements without drawing materials (a fancy way of saying we moved our arms around). First they copied my movements and then they copied the movements of their partners.
This activity came after a getting to know you game where they talked to their partner to find something in common then they introduced one another and shared that thing they have in common with the group.
Students sent one partner to get the paper and tape (in one area) and another to pick out drawing materials. Then they taped down the paper. I told them all to wait for me to get them started on the drawing so that they all could start at the same time.
Before they started drawing I directed the students sit up straight in their chairs and do some shoulder rolls to loosen up then they began the process of mirroring each other. I typically do these group directives before drawing because it helps students focus and it allows me the opportunity to repeat directions for anyone who didn't hear them the first time.
Mirroring Partner Drawing Activty
Once students began the room got very quiet. Students took turns mirroring their partner and then switching. Some students communicated what they wanted to draw before they started drawing. I didn't discourage them from doing this because I wanted them to take the activity where they wanted as a partner group. Once students created the lines I encouraged them to add more elements, like filling in areas or layering textures. The whole activity took the students about 30 min until they felt their drawings were complete. Here's a video with some highlights from the process with my classes.
After students were done they removed the tape and cleaned up the materials. After class I sprayed fixative on all the pastel drawings so they wouldn't smudge.
Elements of Art Review Follow Up Activity
The next day in class after the Bilateral Mirror Partner Activity I reviewed the Elements of Art with my students. I showed them this Elements of Art Presentation (Free Resource) and I told the students to take notes in their sketchbooks.
We paused and talked about the artworks in the slides in partners (the slides that have only one artwork) and I led students through Project Zero's Thinking Routines to visually analyze the artworks with a focus on the Elements of Art that students noticed in the artworks.
We discussed what Elements of Art are Dominant and Subordinate in a work of art and students shared their ideas with their partners. I passed back the Mirror Drawings from the previous lesson. Students looked at their drawings and identified the dominant and subordinate elements in their drawings and then they created a mini composition in their sketchbooks in which they emphasized different elements.
For example if Color and Line were dominant in their drawing they might choose Value and Shape in their sketches. Each student created their own drawing and could choose different elements than their partner to focus on. This activity gave students the chance to review the Elements of Art and also to do some observational drawing. It was helpful for me as a teacher because these were new students and it gave me a chance to assess their skills and experience level as well as making sure that every student had a baseline understanding of the Elements of Art before we moved on to the Quilts of Gee's Bend Lesson which focuses on the Principles of Design.
For this activity I put out a variety of materials for students to use in their sketches including fine/extra fine sharpies, drawing pencils, tortillions, markers, colored pencils, rulers and shape stencils. this was also a way for me to assess the students familiarity with different techniques and I demonstrated how to use a tortillion for the entire class over my document camera because so many students were unfamiliar with the drawing tool. At the start of the semester with new students it is really helpful to have time to observe students and learn about their experience levels. I also had the opportunity to walk around and get to know students more during this low stakes activity.
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