Woody Guthrie Elementary School Curriculum
Studying the Elements of Shape
here for text only version
LINE | SHAPE | COLOR | PERSPECTIVE
Picasso wrote, "It has taken me years to learn how to paint, but it has taken me a lifetime
to paint like a child." Ironically, so many children feel bad about their
drawings and say, "I can't draw people." Is that because they are worried
about it not looking "real?" Children will love seeing Woody's "Face"
portrait and "Face with Flowers." That classic worry of realism will melt
away as they study shape using Woody's paintings.
proportion is often the hard part of drawing, Woody's use of circles
in forming the "Figure in Doorway" will be interesting to children.
"Figure with Round head" also falls into this genre. Children can
see how Woody used circles and ovals to form these characters. Mona
Brookes, author of Drawing with Children, has designed a
chart of basic shapes including variations on empty circle, filled
in circle, and ellipse. These are the shapes most prominent in "Figure
in Doorway" and the cartoonish "Figure with Round Head."
with Hat and Scarf" has interesting curved shapes in both the wide
hat and the unsymetrical hands. "Face and Flowers" features angular
diamond and triangle eyes and a heart shaped ear. Clearly, "Face" is the most abstract of these paintings, evoking Picasso.
Ask students to
play statue, moving about as they will, then striking a pose and holding
it when you give a signal. Discuss the different poses children are holding.
Another suggestion is to let children move to music and stop the music,
asking them to freeze. Choose one student and draw their body pose using
circles and ellipses on big chart paper. Play again, freeze, record another
student's pose on chart paper. Divide class so
everyone has a partner and have them play with poses, freezing, and taking
turns drawing one another using circles and ellipses. After this warmup,
students can go to their places and draw someone they know using this
method. Display all the artwork and discuss the use of shape. An extension of
this lesson can be based on shape using all five paintings suggested in
this section. What shapes do you see in "Face with Flowers"? How are curved
shapes used? What irregular shapes are used in "Face"? Look at the shapes
used in all five pictures. What do you notice? How did Woody use shape
to draw noses? What are different ways to portray eyes? What are some
ways shape can be used to suggest necks? What shapes surprise you?
can paint a portrait of someone they know, being particularly mindful
of shape. Display all portraits as they finish and conduct a class discussion.
What shapes do you see? How did we use shape to make faces? What would
Woody Guthrie say about our portraits?