Thursday, January 19, 2012

4th Grade "Hand-imal" Drawings

4th Grade has been working on a drawing unit. The unit began with students learning to draw from observations, specifically, our hands. We looked at observational drawings of hands by Diego Rivera and noticed the ways in which he used various art principles and elements (value, proportion, shape, color, etc.) to create realistic drawings of hands.

Diego Rivera, "Untitled (Hands of the figure Hope), from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Website (
Diego Rivera, "Untitled (Hands for the figure of Wisdom)", from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Website (

Students then practiced creating contour and gesture drawings of their own hands (from observation) using ebony pencils.

Elijah, 4-331
Jesenia, 4-301
Shirley, 4-301
Catherine, 4-312

After this, students explored using oil pastels and learned how to layer, blend, smudge and scratch the material to create various effects.  Students then drew animals (from reference photos) using oil pastels on small pieces of paper. Students started by drawing the animals in black and white first to create value, then they added color. The next week, students considered the shape of the animal they drew and tried to place their hand in a similar shape. They then drew their hands in oil pastels, starting in black and white first, then adding color, just as they had done with the animals.

The third week, students looked at their two drawings and thought about how they might create a third drawing that would portray the animal changing into the hand. We discussed how certain elements of the hand could be combined with specific parts of the animal. For example, we learned that we could start drawing a hand, but instead of drawing all the fingers, ears might replace two of the fingers. If the palm of the hand was the shape of the snout of the animal, then the hand could fade into the snout. Students again did the drawing in black and white oil pastels, then added color.
The fourth week, students thought about a background that could tie their trip-tychs together. We discuss habitat, as well as art elements like color, balance and space. Students realized that the background needed to help their 3 drawings stand out, not distract from them, so they worked on adding large blocks of contrasting color, as well as a few details, in order to show atmosphere and place. The final week, students added details to their animals (like texture and definition of details) using scraffito (scratch) sticks and ebony pencil. Students then mounted their trip-tychs on black paper and did reflection worksheets to reflect on their process.
Please enjoy our "Hand-imals"!!
Braulio, "The Zebra", 4-301

Jesenia, "The Wolf", 4-301

Lisbeth, "The Duck", 4-301

Migdalia, "The Parrot", 4-301

Kathryn, "The Polar Bear", 4-301

Carl, "The Panda", 4-301

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