I love to do this lesson right before Halloween, call me cheesy but I think it is actually a great time to focus on drawing bones and to contemplate mortality. We actually have a real human skull at our school that belongs to the art department and during this lesson I take it out to show students. It is fragile and precious and I supervise students who want to hold it and look at it closely. I show this NPR segment about what we can learn about the bones found in classrooms and schools across the U.S. Also this lesson is a fun excuse to reach out to colleagues in the science department to borrow bones/replica bones and have some interdisciplinary connections.
To start this lesson student do contour drawings of the bones in their sketchbooks, they revisit blind/continuous line drawings and make some more in depth studies of the bones. We discuss what an artist "study"is and look at the beautiful sketches done by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Students choose their favorite composition from their "studies" and take a photo of the view of the bone they want to draw ( I find this works best with my students because my classes tend to be large and some students want to use the same bone). Then students create small studies using the pastels. We discuss techniques for oil/chalk pastels and choosing colors- how to choose colors that blend well together. Students create these studies to experiment with materials and can change colors/views for their final project- many do!
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