One of the most frequent questions in any art room is, “How do you draw _______?” When asked, most teachers demonstrate strategies for breaking down complex images into shapes or direct students to a source image to get their ideas flowing. But sometimes, students still feel frustrated or like they’re unable to achieve their vision.
This got me thinking, does the answer to this question need to come from an adult? Aren’t we always looking for opportunities to shift the source of learning and ideas from ourselves to our students? Frequently, students better receive and more easily grasp new information when it comes from a peer.
So why not help your students curate their own drawing library?
Instead of positioning yourself as the only drawing expert in the room, a student-centered drawing library gives your students the opportunity to build confidence and skills. You probably already have how-to-draw books and source imagery in your classroom. Transforming that space into a student-led area is easy.
Here are 4 simple steps to help your students create their own drawing library.
1. Create an organizational system your students can use independently.
Three ring binders are ideal because students can easily use a three-hole punch to add their submissions to the library.
Brainstorm a list of possible themes and assign one to each binder.
Some examples could include:
- Buildings or Structures
- Popular Culture (video games, movies, books, etc…)
- Patterns, Designs, and Motifs
Don’t be too concerned with your initial list because students will edit it almost immediately. My drawing library had only been open for a day when the students notified me that we simply could not continue without binders for monsters and food!
2. Find an inviting place to store the library.
The success of a drawing library hinges on student buy-in. Students must use and contribute to the library in order for it to stay relevant and functional. Place your library on a shelf or in a tub in plain sight offering easy access. This will ensure students feel comfortable participating on a regular basis.
3. Discuss what it means to “curate.”
In order for the library to work, the artwork and images in it must be inspirational for students. Frame it as a location for students’ “best stuff.” Explain, in the art world, curators are picky about what they choose to include in a collection. Emphasize students should only submit drawings they are proud of.