Fun with drawing (en)

ALL THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (…) IS HOW TO DRAW A CIRCLE. Don’t start out with that old gag, “I couldn’t draw a straight line.” Neither can I, freehand. If we need a straight line, we can use a ruler. Now please try it, just for fun (A.Loomis, 1939, s.8)

While working with kids I’m usually facing two problems: kids convinced that what they draw is not good enough, kids having hard time to move on from stick figures to more advance characters. We can discuss either those two are problems or not. First of all stick figures are as good as any other figure. Just look at some of the stick figures yoga postures by Amey Mathews.

balancingposesWhy kids stick to the sticks (hihi) might depend on many things. Most common is lack of ability to draw different. They never moved to another level because no one show them how to do it or there excitement and need to try new things was smashed like a bug by grownups. Yes, us. Now here is where the other problems comes into the picture. Drawing is not good enough because…? Because someone else can draw better. Oh boy! If i was torturing myself with that thought that I can’t draw as good as Andrew Loomis I would never hold a pencil in my hand. And trust me, Andrew wouldn’t like that, not even a bit.

But let’s dig a bit more. My new personal hero, Will Kemp, points out 3 reason why people can’t draw. He takes it one step forward and explains what to do about it. Isn’t that great? According to mr. Kemp things go wrong because 1. You talk to much and so engage left side of the brain (Big mistake!), 2. You are your worst enemy and critic. Finally 3. ”You label the object too much” (Kemp).

”When I’m drawing a bottle, I don’t draw the bottle, I draw the shapes around the bottle and then the bottle is drawn for me (Kemp).

This makes hell of a sense for me and to be honest i commit those crimes myself sometimes. Not proud of it, but nobody is perfect. Still the challenge is how to translate that into kids friendly language?

Whenever I’m facing stick figures I’m trying to show kids how to put some meat on them (lite kött på benen ;)). It doesn’t make much of a sense in swedish either, but a small joke takes some pressure off before we start. We work in steps.

    1. Have fun with it!
    2. Do it!

and if you are not pleased with effects of your work do it again. It’s that simple. Now, it is always good to have some small help. You can work with Loomis. However his characters might be intimidating for those who are struggling with low self-esteem of there pencils. Don’t get me wrong. I love his book and his art but it is very hard not to compare his drawings with whatever I manage to create. Before we throw ourself into deep water we can start with simpler but not necessary worst materials. I found couple of pdfs created by M.C. Gillis and they are exactly what I was looking for to use with my pupils. What do you think? Before you answer, ask your students how would they learn how to draw. This might be just as much fun 🙂


A. Loomis (1939) Fun with a pencil, PDF

M.C. Gillis I can’t draw… until i practice, PDF

M.C. Gillis The ABC’s of Art, PDF

W. Kemp The 3 reasons why you can’t draw



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