What would you think if I told you that children as young as age 9 years old can be taught how to draw realistic portraits of people? Impossible? You may think because of their age they have not fully graduated from drawing animation characters, and using color markers, and construction paper. Yes, your child can learn how to draw realistic people portraits using the (five tones of shading, a high quality black and white photo, 8 "x 10" plastic acetate sheet grid, gridded 8 "x 10" drawing paper, and a 1 / 2 "cardboard square viewfinder.) By using these basic drawing techniques and drawing materials your child will be able to draw a realistic portrait within two hours without taking any previous drawing lessons from an instructor, or ever picking up a sketching pencil and drawing paper .
Are you still puzzled? I was, and I am still puzzled today. I was an independent Art Teacher teaching at Michael's Art and Crafts, located in Waldorf, MD on Saturday's. I noticed in my area a lack of art classes available for children ages (5-12). Most of the art instructors taught art to individuals ages 13 to adults. But know one wanted to teach the youngger children, or it was hard to find an art teacher close by who would have the patience to teach younger kids, because of their short attention span.
I thought to myself. If a child can learn how to draw animals, landscapes, and animation characters using basic shapes such as a (circle, straight line, angle, curve, and square). They can apply these shapes to draw a realistic portrait of a person. I started reading articles on the Internet and other reference materials on how children learn how to read, write, and draw. I then incorporated my research into a six-week portrait drawing workshop for children ages (9-12).
I learned when a child learns how to read, write, and draw, everything is upside down, or right to left. In other words, they read from right to left instead of left to right. Instead of drawing right side up like adults do. A child will turn their photo upside down to draw, like they are looking in a mirror were everything in reverse. So I came up with a fun and creative portrait drawing workshop by combining children's games, 5, 10, 15 minute drawing time drills, grid line drawing, light and shadowing or toning, upside down reverse drawing, etc. I had to think like a child, and reverse the way I was taught how to draw into the way a child learns how to draw.
For example, by the fourth week of classes the students were ready for time drills. You say time drills that sounds like they are in military school. Not quite, time drills helps the student to focus on the shapes, expression, and movement of the subject without using shading. The basics of this technique is to remind the students to draw the subject exactly the way they see it without stopping. The students were given a cartoon character to draw in five minutes such as Mickey Mouse or any cartoon character. I would tell them not to rush because five minutes is a long time. Some students finished sketching the character in less than three minutes. If they finished before the five minutes were up they could go back for the two additional minutes to correct their mistakes and erase out unnecessary lines. The students would do this exercise for one hour alternating between (five to fifteen minutes time drills) sketching as many as six drawings or more.
Another great exercise is the upside down reverse drawing. The students were given a 8 "x 10" black and white photo, a plastic acetate gridded sheet, and 8 "x 10" gridded paper. The students were instructed to turn the photo upside down, place the plastic acetate gridded sheet on top of the photo. What they are now seeing is the photo divided into (8) squares (horizontally), and (10) squares (vertically). The number of squares on the acetate gridded sheet, should be the same number of squares on the grided paper. Instead of focusing on the photo the students are now focusing on the shapes, and tones of the subject in each square. The purpose of this exercise is for the students to draw and shade in the shapes exactly how they see it in each square. In other words, its like playing connect the lines, or connect the dots. Once the exercise is completed they now have a portrait of a person with the right placement of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth without spending time making corrections. All of the corrections of the portraits can now be finalized by turning the paper right side up and erasing unnecessary lines and heavy shading.
You may think that you need years of drawing experience to draw a realistic portrait. However, I found that to be false. I have taught students with no drawing experience, and some with a few years of drawing experience. Anyone with the desire to want to learn how to draw can do it. The three key points to remember is:
1) Patience – Go at your own pace. Do not compare yourself to other artists, or you will get frustrated and want to quit.
2) Technique and Style – Everyone has their own unique style. Choose a drawing or painting medium that you feel comfortable using. For instance, if you enjoy using oil painting, but feel uneasy about exploring with watercolors. Stick to the oil painting.
3) Practice – I always say this to my students. Practice makes perfect. Then practice again and again.
Article published on the Intuit Business Directory website (4/2/09). To see examples of my students artwork projects visit [http://www.yourelegantportrait.com]