This project is ideal for that time of year when the trees have lost their leaves and the new leaves haven’t sprouted yet.
Kids love any excuse to get out of the classroom, so if you can, go outside and have them do the first part of this project “from life”. If that’s not possible, or you don’t have any good trees nearby, some good reference photos will do.
1. Start by talking about positive and negative space. In this case, the positive space is the tree trunk and branches and the negative space is the area between the branches and around the tree.
2. Use a viewfinder to select the part of the tree you want to draw. You can make a viewfinder using two “L” shaped pieces of paper or you can even use your fingers. Close one eye as you look through your viewfinder, moving it around to find the most interesting composition.
3. Now do a contour drawing (edges only – no detail or shading), cropping it (have it go off the page) to add interest. Pay attention to the shapes created by your negative spaces…. this will help you draw the positive spaces around them.
4. Remind students to press lightly as they draw so they can erase as needed without leaving a “shadow” of the lines they don’t want.
5. Trace over your pencil lines with a black Ultra Fine Sharpie, then erase any pencil lines still showing.
6. Use markers to color the negative spaces. You can choose one color for the whole drawing or several colors to give your drawing a “stained glass” look. Be careful to color all one direction!