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One of the best things about teaching middle school students is the fact that they are quite willing to try some unconventional ideas when it comes to creating art. Some of my students’ greatest successes have come from using materials in unexpected ways. This is especially true when those materials are combined with conventional subject matter, like that found in still life drawing.
Combine realistic still life drawing techniques with highly patterned backgrounds such as Zentangle® designs. Encourage emphasis by using contrasting materials like vibrant chalk pastels and black permanent markers.
Try breaking the composition into sections by drawing random lines across the work. Then, add color to both the positive and negative spaces the lines create.
Use more than one material or technique to help add variety in color, texture and value. Examples could include torn paper collage, brushing over marker with a paintbrush to create a bleed effect, and reverse charcoal drawing (highlight rendering).
Start off with paper that is anything but white! Beginning with a colored base adds a beautiful richness and tends to hide those ugly I-erased-100-times marks.
What’s your favorite way to mix it up when it comes to a tried and true still life project?
Do you have any knockout lessons to share?