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Some Kids I Have Known
Teaching Ross Drawing

Art centered around the geometric shapes is how we begin our teaching. The letters the child must learn after all are simply triangles, circles, squares and straight lines.

Any language really is just art and this reaches as far back as we are able to read those pictographs of markings on the pyramids. The letter begins with a picture and gradually evolves to a symbol.

I taught my granddaughter art first. She is eight now and can draw just about anything she wishes just by looking at it. There are two simple ways to teach drawing. One is with the onion skin tracing paper. No! It is not a sin to trace. This teaches the child to look at the outside lines of an object. When I was teaching her I made her aware some would say she was not really drawing when she traced things,  but that she should not be concerned, because this is how she would learn to draw, through practice.

The second way is to cut out stencils of simple objects, letters of the alphabet included.  The child can go around the inside edges of the cut out, coloring the space and when the stencil is lifted the object is there forming an imprint on their mind. Use heavier paper for this. For some reason, although art is a right brained activity, it increases the ability to do left brained activities such as math. I can't explain this. My grandson did not know the word “edge.”  We talked about the edge of objects and I made sure he understood. There is a discussion about edges in one of my lessons on the art page. It is a very important part of art and is how the artist directs the observers eye with the use of hard or soft edges. Being able to control these edges by learning the techniques for doing so is necessary in becoming an accomplished illustrator. At this place we simply are teachiang this because obviously he will not learn it anyplace else.

There are endless things to put together with the basic shapes. Today, we made a stencil of the word “AT.”  We then did simple drawings from the basic shapes for RAT, MAT, CAT, BAT, FAT (a puffy stick figure), BRAT (a smiley face with the smile turned upside down and horns on its head).  After the words were learned, and you will be surprised at how quickly a child will learn them. I drew the picture, he colored it, and I wrote the word beneath the picture.

We put together a “book” using the words in short sentences, allowing the child to “Read” the different colored “AT” word from the other print (I used red) . Some short sentence like, “A FAT RAT,” etc. Keep the sentences short. A BAT, RAT AT A MAT, A FAT CAT, etc. In your mind these may be negative words. In a child's fresh mind they are simply fun words with no previous hang ups as to their being anything but positive. Isn't this the joy of a child?

The purpose in using these words is that they are all of a fur like texture. Which takes us into another phase of art, and that is of texture. Using the cut out stencil I used a large fluffly brush with a dry brush method (accomplished by dabbing the heaviesst paint off before use). This is for the teaching of the “stipple” technique. By holding the brush straight up and down, not at an angle like when writing with a pencil, we stipple with the dry brush. The results are a fur like look for the mat, the cat, the rat and the bat. The stipple techique is not to be looked down upon. One of the greatest of artists, Corot, used this method totally. He never did drag his brush on the canvas. The results are  the beautiful soft edges giving a sort of a glow to his work.

The Dr. Suess Book, Cat in a Hat is good reading at this time.  Children begins to get a very real understanding of how words are being put together to tell a story and they love it. Also, all at once they are reading, and the encouragement spurs them on to begin to want to learn more.

The very most important thing to remember when teaching a child is NOT, what you are getting across to them, but that you are creating a climate and a love for learning. The instructions are coming from a loved one and it is more valuable and easier for you to impart your knowledge since the initial barriers of possible personality “strangeness is not there.”  Do not worry that you may not be a qualified teacher. We,  after all, are all teachers in some way or another. The greatest experience in my life was when my rancher father taught me to read at the age of four in the middle of the morning on his break from chores. The cozy time around a warm wood stove while the winds howled outside gave me more than I have ever had to fortify and strengthen my love for learning. My father had a third grade education.

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