Keith Haring is a very fun artist to study, though I heavily advise you pick out the photos you want to share rather than just pull him up on Google. His artwork is fun for young children to look at because of his simple shapes, bright colors, and lines to show movement.
It also works as a good way to introduce realistic drawing, foreground, middle ground, and background. We did a lot based on some of these guiding principles.
I wanted my students to start drawing people more realistically, rather than stick figure drawings, but didn’t want them to feel intimidated by all the details. We looked at Keith Haring’s work to get an idea of how basic shapes work together and are the building blocks to drawing people and animals. They had looked at “How to Draw” books before, but this was taking it to an assignment level expectation rather than a “What to do when I am done” expectation.
I gave each student a sheet of paper with ovals for the body. They cut out the shapes and put them into plastic bags for storage. Then we got to work. Day one, I had students get onto the table and pose for their classmates. Students had to place their ovals into the right spots on their tables to show how this would look in 2D.
Then they got to break off into partner groups and do the same thing. The next day, they got their sketch books. They had to partner up again, put the ovals into the right spots and then draw them onto their paper. The hardest part was making sure students didn’t forget the neck (not included in the shape pack), and place their arms and legs in the right spots. A lot of kids put their legs and arms in the middle of their bodies instead of at the ends of the ovals. The other challenge was overlapping shapes.
We then got into the assignment. Students were to create a scene in which one or two “bubble people” would be actively doing something. They would create their bubble people out of construction paper, and their scene would be drawn with colored pencils.
After a few more times of practicing how to draw people using these basic shapes, we moved onto the next step: drawing the foreground, middle ground, and background for our scene. This was actually much harder than expected, especially for my boys. They wanted to draw soccer players or basketball players in a stadium showing a birds-eye view of the entire field or court. We looked at photo references numerous times and I made these samples to help:
Students made their scenes first. After they completed their scenes, using as much details as possible, they cut their bubble people out of construction paper and placed them into the scene accordingly. The final touch was to add lines to show movement using a black Sharpie pen.
This is a great lesson to introduce many vocabulary terms, concepts, and skills for young children. These concepts will be carried over into third grade for realistic drawings.