There’s nothing like taking kids outside to draw. Kids LOVE drawing outside. It doesn’t have to be anywhere special… just the idea of going outside to do something evokes the excitement of a field trip!
Supplies can be minimal. All you need is paper, a pencil, an eraser, and a portable flat surface to draw on. A piece of foam core board or thick cardboard cut to just a little larger than the paper (held on with a clip or some tape) will work great.
The biggest challenge for kids when drawing outside can be deciding exactly what to draw, and how to create a good composition. The options can seem limitless when you’re outside, to the point of being overwhelming. This is where a viewfinder can make all the difference!
With a viewfinder adjusted to the proportions of their paper, students can better visualize possible subjects for their drawing. Once they’ve chosen what they want to draw, a viewfinder makes it easy to experiment with various ways to use their space. Viewfinders help kids focus, too, when the distractions outside can be many!
Before they begin drawing, remind students of some basics of good composition… choose a focal point, use odd numbers of elements, and avoid tangents (elements that just barely touch or lines that go into corners). Trying out a variety of compositions with some quick thumbnail sketches can be helpful if time allows.
Viewfinders also come in handy when drawing just a portion of a still life, a portrait, or any picture where the subject is cropped. Just make sure the viewfinder is in the same proportion as the paper. Whether drawing outside or inside, almost any composition can benefit from being planned with a viewfinder!
an inspiring quote:
“A well-composed painting is half done.” ~ Pierre Bonnard
The more your students learn about composition, the more truth they will find in this quote!
When a student begins with a strong composition, their drawing or painting may seem to come together almost effortlessly. But when their composition is weak, they might struggle to make it work, unsure of why it “doesn’t look quite right”.
Understanding the rules for a good composition gives students the power to make confident decisions as they work. Even a decision to “break the rules” can work when it’s made with purpose and intention.