Students grades K through 3 or 4 are usually open to experimenting with drawing, painting and craftwork. As kids get older, they become more tuned into cultural expectations of what “good” art is and sometimes more self-conscious about what they create.
The key to helping young people express themselves artistically is helping them to become more aware of what they see and more relaxed about translating what they see into an art form. The best place to start is with sketching. Having a sketch book and using it often can be the source of great joy and creative exploration for young people.
A sketch is usually a quick impression of what you see or imagine. A sketch can have lots of extra lines, doodles and experiments on different parts of the page. Because a sketch is meant to be informal, there is no pressure and lots of freedom.
Many artists begin a project—whether it is a drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramic work, or even a piece of jewelry—by making a sketch or a series of sketches.
Sketching outside allows a person the time to really absorb a place. People who love to sketch outside usually take a sketch book, some pencils, and a blanket or small folding chair to sit on.
Sketches can also be done from your imagination. Kids can be encouraged to create new creatures or landscapes.
These are sketches of imagined animal characters by Lynn Graton.
Sketches are often done with a soft pencil. Some people will use an eraser, but it is more important to keep looking at the shapes and textures of what you are trying to draw and keep experimenting. Some brave artists will even sketch with a pen.
When starting a sketching project, it is helpful to remind students that sketches do not need to be finished pictures. Encourage them to:
Many artists use sketches to create more complicated pictures. The artists who created the pictures for the Heritage Arts Build-A-Picture activities all started by making a sketch.
This sketch was done by Beth Krommes before she did the final scratchboard picture for the puzzle activity on dogsledding.