Many drawings and paintings begin with a simple sketch. Drawing with a light touch during this stage can make all the difference and the Circle Challenge can help!
Students can get completely frustrated right from the start if they draw too dark, too soon. These dark lines can be difficult or impossible for them to erase. They can leave a “ghost” of the original image that no amount of erasing will take away. And it’s hard not to be frustrated with a drawing that starts out like that.
Erasing a line completely can be impossible if you’ve pressed too hard to begin with. It’s much better to draw lightly and then darken your lines once you’re sure you’re happy with them.
As a teacher, you can start to feel like a “broken record” reminding students to press lightly when they draw! But once drawing lightly becomes a habit, students can save themselves time and frustration and enjoy the drawing process even more.
So here’s an idea to help your students develop this habit of drawing with a light touch. Try beginning each class with a “Circle Challenge”. Pass out some scrap paper or inexpensive printer paper and have students “warm up” their drawing hand by quickly drawing as many circles as they can, as lightly as they can.
Then walk around the room looking for the lightest circles. Students will be excited to show you their best circles! I’ve been amazed by how many students can’t seem to make themselves press lightly when I remind them to, but can suddenly make circles that are almost invisible once there’s a competition involved!
Try this activity with other lines and shapes, too. You can call out different lines to draw (i.e. vertical, horizontal, diagonal, wavy, etc.) or different shapes (ovals, squares, triangles, etc.) to mix things up a bit and give students even more practice controlling their pencil pressure. When appropriate, students can do this warm-up activity on the back of their paper and just turn the paper over when it’s time to start their drawing.
Another good drawing habit that helps with drawing lightly is a technique known as the “Tripod Grip”. Find out how to teach this grip and the special role a cotton ball plays in my blog post: How to Hold a Pencil.
An Inspiring Quote:
“Let frustration fuel inspiration” ~ Sonia Boyce
Kids can quickly become frustrated when they experience a gap between what they want to do and what they’re able to do. While frustration is an uncomfortable emotion for anyone, kids can have an especially hard time knowing what to do with those feelings, or how to express them appropriately.
Feeling frustrated usually suggests that something we’re doing isn’t working. If we can help kids recognize this, they can learn to use their frustration as a trigger to alert them to change something about what they’re doing. They can make their frustration work to their advantage!
When kids get frustrated with a drawing they’re working on, a strategy as simple as drawing with a light touch may be just what’s needed to inspire them to keep going and move their drawing skills to the next level.