Earlier this winter, Teaching Artist Susan Armington visited Highlands Elementary with colored pencils and paper at the ready for her drawing residency. She had 8 classes; 4 with 1st through 3rd graders and another 4 with 3rd through 5th graders.
“What I love about drawing is that it brings you to seeing something more and more closely – the more you look, the more you can see, the more shows up in your drawing;” Susan explains. “What else I love is that after you look at something closely and draw it, you get this great product – an image that reminds you of all the detail and cool things about the thing you drew.”
This residency specifically focused on the basics of drawing — learning to draw by doing simple shapes, lines, circles, shading and rough sketches.
“I love the moments of silence when everyone is absorbed in their drawing; you can look around the room and see complete focus and pencils moving in every hand, breathing in utter quiet.”
Susan notices that through this activity, some of the least motivated students become the most engaged.
“A teacher told me that one boy, who never can concentrate on anything is continuously drawing and loves this approach;” Susan says. “Or a 5th grader showing me first her drawing that ‘looks like a donkey’ and through practice and revision is now a proud and obvious horse.”
Susan was exhilarated throughout the entire residency, but one of her favorite moments with any residency is the start.
“When the students are excited and filled with anticipation – which animals will they draw today? Can they do it? - and the end when they discover, like magic – they can do it! The proof? New animals or creatures fill their drawing journal!”