When people ask me how they can teach art at home, I suggest a systematic approach.
First, keep it simple. Even one 30-minute session a week is great.
Second, build your lessons around the art elements.
What are the Art Elements?
Depending on whom you ask, there are between five and seven art elements line, shape, form, texture, space, value, and color.
By learning about the various art elements, your children will begin to understand how art works. In time, they may use those elements to create more sophisticated artwork, but at first just let them have fun.
LINE – All art begins with a line. To learn about lines, you don’t many supplies, just a pencil, eraser, and paper. Practice drawing and creating with lines: straight, zigzagged, vertical, horizontal, squiggly, curved, parallel, thick, thin, and whatever else your child’s imagination drums up.
SHAPE – Shape is flat, two-dimensional, and is created when lines intersect or close in on themselves. There are geometric shapes (circle, square, triangle, etc.) and organic shapes (shapes that don’t qualify as geometric). To experiment with shape, plan a shape scavenger hunt around the house. Have your children identify the shapes that make up different objects. Then have them draw some of these objects by drawing the shapes that make them up.
FORM – Shapes are flat; forms are three-dimensional. An easy and fun way towork with form is to work with clay, or even something like PlayDoh®. With older children, you might try soap or wood carving. If you have a child who likes to draw and wants a challenge, have them draw an object and shade it so that it has a 3-D look.
TEXTURE – Texture is how the surface of an object feels. Texture is smooth, rough, shiny, bristly, soft, furry, scratchy, and so on. A fun exercise for learning how to use texture in art is to take white glue and mix some sand in with it. Then, using a foam craft brush on heavy paper, paint a design. Be sure to keep the glue thick. Once the glue has dried, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the paper and gently smooth it down with your hands. The foil will take on the texture of the glue and sand underneath.
SPACE – In art, we talk about two different kinds of space: positive and negative. Positive space is the space that an object takes up. Negative space is the space in and around an object. An easy exercise to help your child understand how to use negative space is what I call the Superman drawing. Find a copy of the iconic “S” shield from Superman. Draw the diamond shape and have your children try to draw the S inside it. After they finish, have them repeat the drawing; however, this time draw the shapes around the S instead of the letter. They will still draw the S, but they will be amazed at how much easier it is to draw. In the following photo, it is possible to draw the chair and it’s shadow by merely focusing on drawing the empty space in and around the chair. Give it a try.
COLOR – Color is the most fun element to work with. A set of inexpensive watercolors, brush, and watercolor paper are all you need. Using only the three primary colors (red, yellow and blue), have your children create an abstract painting. Let them experiment with color and see how many different colors they can create, just using the primaries.
VALUE – Value is the lightness or darkness of a color or shade. One way to learn to work with value is to create a drawing on a dark surface using only highlights. For example, use black construction paper for your drawing surface and light colored or white chalk to draw on.
By using the art elements as the foundation for your home school art class, you can begin to equip your students with the skills and understanding they need to cultivate their own abilities and create their own unique art.
If you’re not clear on how the elements work, this short (5 min) video should clarify things for you: