I have done this lesson every year for the past seven years, and with good reason. It touches so many key art skills. Drawing from observation, overlapping shapes, drawing off the paper, stippling, texture, warm and cool colors, and details.
Please take a quick look at this lesson as we focus on drawing from observation for the overlapping leaves: https://sharpenedpencilspoundedclay.com/2019/11/06/learning-some-drawing-skills/
To teach students how to draw overlapping shapes, I use two methods: the pencil jump, and the draw over and erase. Students seem to like one method over the other, but I do have to admit that the ones who draw over and erase don’t quite understand the concept as well as the pencil jump kids. They get confused on what object they want in front. The draw over and erase students get really interesting effects though when they forget to erase parts of their leaves.
I also take a moment to teach students how to draw off the page. The easiest way to draw off the page is by sticking another piece of paper under the artwork. This helps them get over the safety of having a big enough paper to draw on. Once the students have another piece of paper overlapping the other, they quickly understand that they can draw their leaves on two pieces of paper. They remove the paper underneath and whala, they’ve drawn off the page.
Once we draw the leaves, we trace with Sharpie pen. I teach students about stippling and a little about pointillism at this point, just for fun. We draw dots on the leaves, we draw fine lines, some holes, etc. to make our leaves a little more interesting.
For the painting part, I took a day to go over three painting techniques to help students understand that when you use these methods together you have the freedom to create unique visual textures.
- Wet on dry: applying wet paint onto dry paper, or wet paint onto an area of dry
- Wet on wet: wet paint applied onto wet paint or wet paper.
- Adding salt: salt crystals soak up the liquid from the watercolor paint, creating areas without as much pigment.
The next day we start painting. The students had their experiment page out in front of them while they painted their leaves so they could see what effect they wanted to recreate.
And here are the results.
For the next painting project, students get to apply what they learned with their own ideas.