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So you think you can draw? Part I: Composition Tools

In January, the Wasatch County Library invited me to teach as part of their new So You Think You Can Draw series.  These 8-12 year olds were amazing and I enjoyed our time as we sketched, discussed composition tools, and discovering their own art style.

If you have a budding artist/photographer/designer in your home (or if you have an artist’s heart within you that is begging to burst out), here are some ideas to explore:

Part I: Composition Tools

Viewfinders - We tore rectangles out of the middle of scratch paper to make view finders.  They used them to restrict their view and find interesting compositions.  (Much like one looks in a camera’s view finder.)

Try it with one of your drawing-loving kiddos.  Find household objects and draw the object different ways.  And if you're brave enough...let them use your camera. 

Thumbnails - Draw small boxes (an inch or two squared) on a scratch paper.  Artists call these thumbnails.  Before choosing a final composition, many artists will do several of these quick, simple & small sketches to find their chosen composition.  They are an important part of planning the piece.

Sometimes this will result in one piece of artwork…others it will become a series (several pieces of work within a theme).

Composition questions to ask oneself:

  1. Did you use a viewfinder?
  2. Did you make at least 3 thumbnails?
  3. Is there a focal point?
  4. How is the angle?
  5. Do you find it interesting?

Use your view finder or camera at home and every where you go to find interesting subjects, composition, and angles to communicate your vision or what you are seeing.  Sketch and photograph what you find most interesting.

Let me know how it goes 

In the meantime, find other artists/designers that you enjoy and start taking note of what you enjoy about their composition choices.

Also,  I have lots of friends/parents tell me their children are artistic, but they don’t know what to do to help them explore their creativity. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Invite them to check out art/design books at the library. 
  • Take them to a local art gallery/museum/exhibit. 
  • Subscribe to an art/design magazine they would enjoy like Artist’s Magazine,      Southwest Art, or American Art  Collector
  • Encourage them to keep sketchbooks, display their work in your home, photograph their work and create a folder in your “my pictures” file for their artwork (their own online portfolio).

Do you and/or your kiddos love to create?   
What do you do to encourage and foster creativity in your home?

katrina berg loves to create with her three small kiddos everyday. They paint, cook, and make lots of messes. The future cooks & artists like to borrow her favorite tools, so if you spot a stray ladel, paint brushes, or sushi mat...please let her know!

images by katrina berg

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