Architecture & Engineering and my experience with YouTube schooling

I have wanted more art history. As we work through Rome, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance I know I learned a great deal about architecture- you know in the old days- but where was that and how do I share it with my kids?

As they love studying sciences, inventors and explorers I wanted to approach this as part history, part art, part engineering and inventing. So that is what we did. We added it to the end of our read aloud/morning basket/history.

age? good question! I did this as a read-a-loud with my 8th grader and 5th grader. Some of the materials looked geared younger and we all LOVED them. Some were geared much much higher and we all struggled with the weight of the reading so we began supplementing with YouTube tours. It’s been amazing! We’ve enojoyed this so much that friends keep asking me to share…..the trouble is- I didn’t take notes. Maybe that is the key? or maybe I just don’t keep records enough to share- I’m not sure.

So, this is just an idea. How I handled. it. Some jumping off places I guess. Please take what you can- change to what suits you or use it as is- just explore.


k5 Architecture: It’s Elementary-FREE download * this served as an introduction. vocabulary. and art. I printed all levels: k-5. I liked some of the lessons and drawings but not any of them necessarily the way they were written. I printed them and then grouped them together (give or take):

  • houses people live in
  • features of houses
  • the lay of a city
  • a park or outdoor space
  • perspective drawing.

I sorted the papers the way I wanted, three hole punched them, paper clipped my  ‘groupings’ and put them in a binder. This worked for me, but I find as I go back to share them it is nearly impossible- for that I apologize. I titled them in our schedule with whatever was on the first page- not what the material was. It would’ve helped, I think, If I’d kept the paperclips in place too :\ We spent about 4 -6 weeks on this material.

Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design Build and Test– This may be my favorite book EVER!! This was sooo much fun and so informative. This looked and was geared toward my younger girls but the information was SO wonderful that I learned amazing (BIG!) things. I recommend it to anyone!

In between lessons I filled in with some books from my shelf, friends and the library. I will try to name them and we did enjoy them but none were shining examples I’d recommend (I can’t remember the titles- it’s like the library books you opened and enjoyed and then sent back. they were fine. I would encourage adding books like these- I just don’t know that I have a specific suggestion. sorry)  little like this:

cities then and now– we really enjoyed the pictures in here. The reading was heavier then we wanted. I’m not sure I would purchase it for the pix but I did really enjoy them- they are an overlay picture. The top clear sheet lets the current/modern picture behind show through where buildings are still there while the overlay has the ancient cityscape on it.

Buildings of the World

Stone and Steel

Bridges were Made to Cross

ONE more book I used first semester that I do recommend- but is EASILY adaptable to anything- I had picked up a big coffee table book of Manhattan. The book is predominately photography of the architecture of Manhattan- very artfully taken. Any city, any coffee table book…. We opened each day, oooh’d and ah’ed and drew some of the beautiful lines of the architecture as much as the lines of the photography. (we draw for memory. for exploring, for experiencing- the CM method right? not for beautiful finished drawings!)

we LOVED the book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design Build and Test so much that we wanted to see more and added a couple of videos in the middle like these:


I began to learn the real value of YouTube in my homeschool!

SO, second semester we stepped it up and toured the world! 😉

We began the semester with this book:

annotated arch   The annotated Arch by Carol Strickland

While I was, and still am, very impressed with this book- both in information and in photos- it was heavier reading than we wanted in our read aloud study. SO- this is my spine. Every morning after history, we open this book. sometimes we read, but sometimes we just look up a building, an architect or a style and watch videos.

I did not keep a record to share 😦 but some stick out more than others, so I can give you some examples (and btw- I think you could google a timeline of architecture, or styles -I’d do a google image search- and find a spine that suits you too)

The Khan Academy videos, when they emerge, we’ve found very informative! and short.

and this


and then there are the ones I found quite impressive with information and I DID watch them with my girls but are a little shakier on content…I watch with them which I think is a HUGE factor.

This one was SO impressive. I really did enjoy it (below). I would caution two things: 1 camera shot, in my opinion, stays too long focused on a nude classical statue of a lady with bare breasts. These image are all over in these works and classical architecture but this one was too long (IMHO). The other is in the history of the building. It spent a minute or two discussing the fact that one room exceeded its intended use and was often used as a brothel for a time. again- history of the building. This video is filled with incredible pictures, amazing architectural and design feats of just one man and a rich history. (so many of the videos spend so much time on the connection to the Phantom of the Opera- FUN! but I wanted more than that story)

the architecture of Versailles (2-each below).

I confess. We watched another video on Versailles that I really enjoyed-but I would really caution you to view this for content. It is rich in the history of Louis the XIV, builder of Versailles, but is also full of the libertine life in the palace.  I did enjoy knowing the political history! It is an extraordinary lesson on how he usurped absolute power! So I’ll share it here, but not as easily accessible. It is a documentary, well done, just possibly too intriguing into the lifestyle and drama of the palace. ( There is little in this 0f the architecture- but so rich in history and life I thought I’d share- quietly I hope, so that you can be the judge. 😉

please share ideas you’ve used to learn architecture, art history or tour the world.

I hope this inspires you to explore rabbit trails and fun learning in your homeschool! (and to share them!)






Fine Arts? Musicals! movie fun. WRITING!! create your own homeschool

Whether you are catering to your child’s (or your) interests, you can create your own homeschool from anything! Fine arts is a big basket. Find something you enjoy to do with it- after all, that is what it was meant for… Or was it? We found ways to explore musicals (like the Broadway shows- but the ones filmed I can watch in my living room with my kids) and any deeper meaning the authors may have wanted to convey. Maybe that is the true work of an artist– what it communicates. See what you find.

I put this together for a friend’s daughter. I like it. Having put it together for a specific child in mind here were the ideas in my head:

  1. She had fallen in love with the musical “Hamilton” and Mom wanted to maximize on that interest. (smart mom!)
  2. She is VERY strong willed and has a very rebellious nature- the writing prompts, I believe can be a good thinking device for anyone, but I designed these questions for her to ARGUE and reflect her ideas and opinions.
  3. Mom had indicated she needed more motivation to write. I think these could easily be papers assigned, but I think the mom I worked with on this planned to use them as journal prompts.
  4. As a rebellious teen, she had already sought some controversial content (RENT) and Mom wanted to concede that- as long as we explore____ we also explore____. We had discussed offering her a list of options, her having veto power of x number so it was designed to have concessions on both sides.
  5. We originally discussed using these in a historical timeline so they were arranged that way, but ultimately we decided on more of a writing program- but they could easily be used alongside a history curriculum as they are (roughly) arranged by time setting.

I had a ton of fun putting this together because I am a big fan of musicals. I focused more on my favorites for two reasons: 1) I could come up with out of the ordinary questions because I was familiar and 2) i owned them on DVD making it easier for my friend to share with her daughter.

Since I’ve put this together, I’ve learned of other moms that looking for a way to cover some fine arts. This, to me, qualifies. So here is what I have:

*Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat- Does adversity mean that God is not with us? How does Joseph’s faith lead him to God’s plan for his life?

Jesus Christ Superstar – Does Judas behave as a Christian? He follows the rules- he repented, asked for forgiveness, gave back the money- why is he lead to suicide? Do you think Jesus forgave him?

The King and I (1956)- What does Mrs Anna do to honor the King’s culture, what does she refuse to do? How does this help or hinder the King’s objective?

*Les Miserables- Who does the justice system work for in this period in time? What have we learned and failed to learn from this justice system?

*1776- Are our forefathers remembered as demi-gods as Franklin suggests in the movie. Do we have a fair image of the men they were?


*The Phantom of the Opera – How can our own ideas and experiences blind us to reality?

*Oklahoma!- How does courting differ from Oklahoma to now? What is better and worse about them?

*Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- How can having an inventive mind help and hinder a families well-being?

*Guys and Dolls- How do Sky’s and Sarah’s view of the Bible differ? Who, in your opinion has a better understand of life’s rules?

*Chicago- Is this a good or bad portrayal of the power of the Press and its role in our justice system? Do you think it is better or worse than today?

*The Music Man – Do you think traveling salesman are able to maintain a respectable image? Why or why not?

*Fiddler on the Roof- Have you ever considered the effect of changing times’ effect on fathers? How does this portrayal of a father’s decisions prove his love for his children? Is it enough to fit into the changing world?

*The Sound of Music- This family’s decision to escape in the face of the Nazi’s takeover is portrayed as heroic. Is this because of our ability to look back on history and see what would happen? Is it because they were successful? How do you think you would know if you were living in such a perilous time? Do you believe you would take the same risk?

South Pacific

*Hairspray- How did the changing music industry affect the Civil Rights Movement in the US? Did it help, hinder or both?

*West Side Story- Why do you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is such a popular and timeless story? How does this modern version approach the idea?


Other musicals – just a list we discussed. I thought I’d share our brainstorming ideas- however slight they were 😉

Not sure where these fall in a time period:

  • *A Chorus Line
  • Singing in the Rain
  • *Wizard of Oz
  • Cabaret
  • Oliver
  • Annie Get your Gun
  • 7 brides for 7 brothers
  • My Fair Lady
  • *Annie
  • Evita
  • Funny Face
  • Funny Girl
  • Rocky Horror
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Carousel
  • State fair
  • Damn Yankees
  • Gigi
  • *Mary Poppins

NOTES: * were put in for local friends- these are ones I own 😉 I DO NOT guarantee the content of these AT ALL. Use at your own discretion. Some of these I have, indeed, studied with my children. Other I have not! This was designed with a specific audience- not all. Please use your judgement and look up content.




Renaissance Art History Study

I’ve longed to find a good art history course. I cannot seem to find what I am looking for, so I’ve begun to put it together myself. No wonder. this is no easy task 😉 I’ve begun smaller than I thought I would- but then again personally I’m quite bored beginning with Egyptian art. I happen to appreciate painting a great deal more.

I don’t put a huge stock in age level or reading level. I choose books for their interest level. This is my idea of fun and interesting things to read- or tailored to my children’s taste- depending. I think we ALL enjoy an easy read now and then as well as challenges. Above all I hope to foster a love of reading and learning and I choose books I find fascinating just as I hope my children will do all their lives. It is my hope that you will be inspired by this make-your-own-way style and change out books to your own liking 😉

This study is only 9 weeks longs as I intend to use it as part of my year 2 history. We do a four day week schedule with notebooking Fridays.

(there are not affiliate links. I don’t even own this site. I just link to Amazon for your convenience) just sharing my ideas. good luck with yours.

The books:

(Who Was) Leonardo Da Vinci? by Roberta Edwards

(Amaze) Amazing Leonardo DaVinci Inventions you can build yourself by Maxine Anderson

(RA) Renaissance Artist who Inspired the world by Gregory Blanch and Roberta Stathis

(LA) Lives of the Artists by Kathleen Krull

Michelangelo by Elizabeth Ripley  * this is an old library book I found- not a specially chosen book really. not a bad book! but used for convenience too.

(UA) The Usborne Book of Art by Rosie Dickins

week 1:

RA intro p 1-17

p 18

UA p 1-13


week 2:

LA p 10

RA p 26

Who was – first 1/2

who was- finish

week 3

Amaze -Intro

perspectograph  & draw

masks, plastic glass and paint

divine proposition & activity

week 4

jokester & invisible ink

monster shield

useful machines and camera

weather and hydrometer

week 5

monkey wrench, water

watershoes, webbed gloves

plight, ornithopter

helicopter, parachute

week 6


war, safety bridge

trebuchet, tank

catch up

week 7 (Michelangelo)

LA p 16

RA p 36

Michelangelo- excerpts

Michelangelo- excerpts

week 8 (Raphael)

RA p 44

Sofonisba Anguissola- LA p 24

RA p 52

Renaissance Spreads RA p 58

week 9

RA p 66

UA p 14,15

LA Rembrandt p 28

Peter Paul Rubens and Van Eyck- online. * I would rather have good printed resources but I have not come across what I am looking for yet. I do think it important to cover these two, be familiar with their names and famous works. Please let me know of great resources to use toward these ends 🙂













Art! Color

I hope you started with Art! drawing 1 and Art! drawing 2 but if you didn’t we’ll talk about some drawing basics again.

Are you familiar with the TV show “Brain Games”? I’ve only seen a few episodes but the first one I ever saw was the first season, first episode entitled “watch this” The show is all about the way the brain works and this particular episode incorporates optical illusions. You see, sometimes our brain makes assumptions. Our eyes automatically translate 3-dimensional things to our brains. So when you paint on a solid surface- it helps to know what your brain is going to see. This is how we make a 2D painting LOOK 3D. We use what our brain knows and help is see a 3-dimensional object.

Let’s try an example: a child is asked to draw a table:

table 1

a table is a rectangle with 4 legs. right?

table 2

as we grow we learn that the 4 legs need to go under that table and that one or more can be hidden.

Well, if you’ve done the drawing exercises and learned  basic shapes and shading , we are ready to learn how to shade using color. But first- lets take a look at color theory. It will help us to name the colors and how they work together.

There are only 3 primary colors. Red, Blue and Yellow. They are called primary colors because there are no colors you can mix to create them, and all other colors can be created with them. You remember right? Red and Blue make Purple. Blue and Yellow make Green. Yellow and Red make Orange. There are called Secondary colors- you could mix them using primary colors.

White is actually all color and black is no color. Did you think I said that backwards? Well the color we see is what [light] bounces off of an object. It absorbs all but the color that bounces back to our eyes. So think of a hot summer day in the sun. White reflects all color (light) back and black absorbs all color. This is also why a black hole swallows everything up.

here is a lesson in color theory

here is an info-graphic on color theory

now we’ll see if we can learn to create with color.


*What can you use to color? anything with color!  You can use colored pencils, conte crayons, pastel chalk, paints (any kind tempra, acrylic, I’d hold off on oil maybe) watercolor or watercolor pencils. you can use crayons, but they will not mix as well as other media. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. You can collect some of these items very inexpensively and they can work quite well, if you find you are really enjoying the media, you might look for a higher quality and you may find that the quality of color and the ability to mix is better, but I wouldn’t worry too much at this stage. You can find supplies just about anywhere. I usually shop: Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Dick Blick or Miller Pad and Paper and the University Book Store. Really the best quality and selection I’ve found was in my college bookstore. I still travel there to buy for some projects.

now color is going to require a little lesson in vocabulary:

hue and value

photo from

Hue– this is what we think of as color- red, blue, green. In art we are more specific. saturation in this visual can mean how much pigment or how strong the color. The saturation is important because nothing you mix with it can ever make that color brighter or stronger.

The Value – is how light or dark the color (or hue)

Value is determined like this:

a tint – is the hue is when we add white

a shade– is adding black or darkness to our hue

with pencil we practiced

Shading techniques

and shade 3d forms like this sphere in multiple techniques

now we should mix a hue with black and white- making shades and tints

try a worksheet like this

or this

create scales or try another technique like this

a video here

create a project of a color wheel-you can try making a project where you create a color wheel in a fun, imaginative, creative way

this example isn’t set up as strictly a color wheel- but if gives you the idea of a creative color wheel

a ballerina

geometric shapes here, here or here

some fun examples here

and here is a fun one

color wheels can be fun. search for more ideas or check my color theory pinterest board.


Color Combinations or Color Schemes

Now that we have learned about primary colors, tints, and shades lets talk Color schemes

lets review:


image from

Primary colors are in the center. they cannot be mixed.

Secondary colors are the next row out. They can be mixed using primary colors.

Tertiary colors are all of the other color that can be mixed in-between like a yellow-orange, orange-yellow, green-blue…

as we look at these colors on the wheel, we can pick out tired and true color combinations:


image from

as we look at the color wheel we can pick out certain color schemes that will go together. It is fun to try these out.

Here is a worksheet for identifying color combinations using your color wheel.

The first one not shown (above) is called Monochromatic. It is one color. one hue. You use tints and shades of that color (like your scales you did above) to create a picture or project like

this ice cream cone project or this guitar

these beautiful monochromatic painting examples

here, here, here or here

now in the photo above do you see the complimentary? split-complimentary? triadic and analagous? try some of them out!

**SIMPLIFIED IDEA- I’ve done this in a class that was VERY simple. Not terribly artistic but effective in teaching the color combinations. (it depends on how artistic your student wants to be)

find or print some coloring sheets.They can be simple or more complicated. Color them in with the listed color combinations. It can be fun to play with the colors when you are not worried about a project or drawing. Try the project next 😉


another way is to color in the pictures in a mosaic style. Try cutting the necessary colors from magazine photos- cut reds (or red patterns, tint and shades) and greens. TINY, imperfect squares. now use a glue stick and fill in your coloring sheet with these tiny squares to fill in the necessary color.

try a mosaic in this style using the magazine or scarp paper pieces

PROJECTS– try your color knowledge!

Try this project for any color combination OR all of them in one project


here are some project ideas focusing on color, shading or color schemes:


underwater scene – this one is an idea in fractured lines but it sparks a number of ideas for me like a monochromatic or analogous underwater scene

legos– colors in cube forms.

combination color and perspective project

fun mixing colors

value landscape

water droplets

stained glass tint and shades


ART! Drawing part 2

This is a schedule for a creative mind.  This is a simple schedule of ideas. Graduate through a progression of lessons for art & drawing with a little bit of guidance.

Learn drawing basics, 3D forms, shading, color theory, portraits, and more one lesson at a time.

I might suggest to study one section a week: drawing basics, portraits the next, shading…on down the list.

AGE- I think that it is all determined by interest and how much you make of it. I don’t see any reason a 3rd grader and a high school junior couldn’t do the same assignment. It depends on the child which one has more trouble with it or how much time they spend on it. 😉

Here is a list of lessons… well maybe ideas, pictures and prompts to spark imagination- just starters I’ve collected on my own Pinterest boards here, here and here. I’ve selected these to be drawing lessons that should require only a pencil and paper and tried to assemble them into some kind of order (I hope 😉 )  Follow rabbit holes, find inspiration. Enjoy!


Tutorials and Books on drawing:

Inspire My Artist guest post on drawing for Starts at Eight

 ART! drawing part 1

the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

the book Line Upon Line by Janice Arduini


Drawing exercises and prompts:

upside down drawing upside down drawing allow your right brain to work without your left brain trying to take over. (read about it in either of the above blog posts)

symmetry sketches  take a newspaper, comic, magazine picture… use part of the picture and fill in the rest with our pencil.

Draw a tree

drawing hands

using a grid to recreate a picture- more on this in Art! drawing part 1

Organic Shapes

draw waves


overlapping rings

doodling lines

draw a bowl of eggs. draw an apple. draw a vase of flowers. draw bones- particularly cattle bones if you can come up with them.

it may help to draw the negative space only


Portraits– portraits become a lot easier when you understand the proportions are not what you think you see. If you drew an oval for a head, where do you think the eyes would be? At the top? Try putting the eyes in the middle! I’ll be you find you are much happier with your portrait when you are done. Try these tutorials to improve your portrait drawing. Draw a friend, look in the mirror.

tutorial at Inspire My Artist

tutorial and proportions

portrait proportions on one sheet girl , boy

portraits in different view boxes

an eye – eyes have a very specific shape. learn the to draw them!

how to draw lips- lips have a very specific shape. learn to draw them!

practice drawing ears

hair, hair, and more hair

Perspective– if you have the opportunity to watch “Brain Games” Particularly Season 1 Episode 1 it is all about how your eyes and your brain make assumptions, and how it sees things so when it doesn’t look quite right on paper it is because it isn’t the way your brain thinks it should be. Things closer to you look bigger and things farther away look smaller. If you drawing is the opposite of that you will create optical illusions- even if you didn’t mean to. Learn to draw in perspective and you will be able to convince your brain that it is looking at something in 3D!

good tuturioal here draw a train in perspective– this has instructions for 1 point perspective

perspective tutorial this site also has a great worksheet on basic 3D shapes (basic shapes later)

garden in 1 point perspective

cityscape perspective

perspective drawing

row of trees

2 point perspective

basic shapes project in perspective

 lots of examples of perspective

Life drawing – with any life drawing please preview as human bodies are often drawn nude- because truly drawing clothing and fabric is a whole other matter to study. I believe I have chosen tutorials that do this without genitalia, and are not obscene- but you should check to be sure! Some do show drawn nude behinds. Tutorials can range from drawings of ears and hands to full body torso. Life drawing is generally considered drawing human life.

life drawing examples and lessons here , here , here

proportions of hands, feet, head

neck and shoulders

a leg

a few more here on my life drawing pinterest board.

Shapes & Shading- there are a few basic shapes that help us understand all others for drawing and particularly for shading. The sphere, cylinder, cube, cone and pyramid. Understanding how light plays on these can help draw all things in 3D accurately. A leg for instance is a cylinder.

this is and elementary worksheet to identify 3D basic shapes, in art we need to learn to draw these shapes and shade them to so use this to practice drawing basic shapes.

more 3D shapes

Shade techniques- mimic these lessons to learn how to shade in different ways

stippling (a way of shading) examples

basic shapes and shading

how to shade a sphere

how to shade a cylinder (with links to other 3d shapes!)

basic shapes project in perspective

shading in perspective

shading and drawing things of one color- here I suggest we recreate some of the organic shapes section. Organic shapes are unpredictable. Your left brain doesn’t already know it’s shape exactly. Solid colors similarly show only the shades changing in the light so that you are not so concerned about what color but what value.

draw a bowl of eggs. draw an apple.  draw bones- particularly cattle bones if you can come up with them.

reflections of glass

more reflections of glass

ice cubes

shading fabrics

shading folds and fabric – these examples could keep you busy for a week 😉 the book Line Upon Line by Janice Arduini has tutorials in fabric and glass.

 try drawing textures

Abstract drawings and doodles- it’s all about the creativity!

cursive name art

longest line

Graphic design (part of graphic design is learning to see pieces, symbols, icons, simple shapes…) try some of these exercises.

doodle fish or what do you see in this

fun trees


portraits in different view boxes

Elements of design

trees (or something else) from another perspective

elements of design wheel

composition do’s and don’ts

Try math art projects from What Do We Do All Day

Word Art

website to help you put words into a shape. Create your own word art. Inspire 😉

scripture art- inspiration

Calligraphy (this involves specific tools. I plan to do more with this in a later post, but I leave the idea here if you are so inclined as to tackle it yourself.)

3D words

3D art

ribbon lettering

graffiti lettering


Art! Drawing part 1

I  think I had the greatest high school art teacher that ever lived. I lived in a very small town (population about 1000)  with a very small school (k-12 in the same building). We graduated about 25 kids a year. Did you know that at least one kid every year went on to some kind of art school? Did you know that among 25 kids it was usually 2-4 going into an art field? Now do you agree I may have had the best art teacher ever?

Do any of you study IEW writing? Have you at least heart their pitch? It’s the Ben Franklin method of writing. Writing (mechanics, grammar) is a left brain activity, while creative writing- what should I write about, what should I write is a right brain activity. Did you know that your right and left brains don’t talk to each other very well? they don’t work together very well at the same time.

right brain left brain                                                                photo found at

I’m a fan of the IEW approach to writing (just a fan, I’m not being paid to say so). It helps to make the process less painful because trying to accomplish something from one side at a time. Do you want to try it out? Try drawing something- anything- just a stick figure or bubble letters. Try drawing it and talking at the same time. ha!

So the first rule in my high school art class was that it is not that you are not allowed to talk in class, but I will know that if you are talking, you can’t be spending your time drawing 😉 Let me share what I learned from her. I think she had a way of reaching not just those interested in art- but taught everyone how to develop their own art talents through good teaching.

I just read an AMAZING blog post on how to teach art to your teens. Drawing specifically. She explains right/left brain and some great exercises that are meant to help you separate them. I think this is a brilliant approach and I understand this mom intends to create an art curriculum. I can’t wait!!

Have you ever tried to draw a hand? (this is a great first drawing project, you may have tried it through some drawing curriculum.) Did it end up looking a lot like a cartoon hand? Your left brain is telling you, you KNOW what a hand looks like: 1,2,3,4,5 fingers. Why does that looks so terrible? Because you didn’t SEE it with your right brain, your left brain told you what it looked like.

Would you believe that the only REAL difference between these two drawing is that one is seen with the left brain and one with the right. It has nothing to do with the pencil 😉


The book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and this blog post both give great ideas on how to TEACH your RIGHT BRAIN to see what your hand is drawing.  You’ll find the most difficult task is to ‘turn off’ your left brain. It is very bossy! This is the part that is so difficult. ‘I can’t’ is really your left brain talking. It does NOT want to give up control!

Take your left brain OUT-

Blind Contour Drawing– don’t look at your paper. AT ALL. It’s hard. Your left brain won’t like it. but if you spend 2 full minutes drawing what your SEE without looking at your paper, you’ll find that you were more accurate than when you watched.

Draw negative space– negative space is what you are NOT drawing- the spaces around the hand or consider an upright chair back. Draw the spaces in between the bars. Your left brain doesn’t know what the spaces look like!

Upside down drawing! – yes you read that right. This is probably by far my favorite!

This is a drawing by Pablo Picasso. It is GREAT for upside down drawing. Your left brain will see this man in a chair, but when you turn it upside down it is a bunch of lines (particularly starting at the top) that your left brain can’t quite understand. This will take your left brain OUT of the equation and allow your right brain to SEE the lines.

Grid Lines!– This is my favorite, every day, go to drawing project. I can end up with a drawing I’m happy with every time. I learned this using comics. Sunday paper comics. Single line drawing in a square box. Just dissect it into quarters and draw. But you can re-create anything this way and practice drawing what you SEE.

You may have seen this technique in coloring and activity books even. The idea is that when an object/scene is broken up into smaller boxes two things happen:

  1. your left brain is taken out because you are not looking at a whole object or scene, just a few lines. Cover up everything but the box you are working in. You’ll find that your right brain is quite in charge and can recreate what it sees.
  2. It keeps your drawing in place. you may have found in your Picasso upside down drawing that it grew until the whole picture didn’t fit on your drawing paper. That is good. It means you are drawing what you see- your right brain just doesn’t have a lot of boundaries or perception of space. Drawing what is in the box will keep those lines confined in the box so that when you are done the picture has come together as one piece, on one page 😉  Even if you only use two lines- cut into quarters- it gives your brain a confined space to keep the lines it sees.

Drawing within the gridlines allows your left brain to assist. It can relay to your right brain, “this line starts about 1/3 of the way up and goes that way”.

Years ago I used to take magazine photos or photographs to draw with grid lines. There are tons of resources now online (what did we ever do without google?) like this that make this a very simple task to work on.

If your child is interested in drawing something very special– a photograph for example- use a clear overlay-

  1.  a page protector sheet
  2.  an overhead projector plastic sheet (these are quite out of date but I’ve been able to find boxes of them at office supply stores and they are very easy to use. sturdy!)

You can graph these in quadrants or every inch or anything in between.Draw it right on the plastic. Maybe a fine point or felt tip sharpie. Draw the same graph on drawing paper- this is a great math lesson in making it 2 or 3 times bigger than the original!! draw light pencil marks that will be erased later. You’ll be surprised how accurate you can be in re-creating the picture and how fun this can be!


  • Go to your local lumberyard and buy lightweight Masonite board. This is a plywood that is smooth on one side. Cut it (you can cut it with a box cutter even with just a little time and effort) or have it cut to whatever size you wish but 24″ square is an option. Have your student use masking tape and attach drawing paper to the smooth side.(really tape those whole side. you’ll be happier and less likely to bend your paper on accident) attach your original grid line photo to the board loosely so it doesn’t get lost.  Your student can store this behind the sofa and take it out and draw anytime. Prop it up against the table for an easel in your lap.
  • Keep your original in view at all times!!
  • Buy good drawing paper. If you have a young student that just wants to draw- use copy paper. It is inexpensive, and you do not have to be afraid of mistakes or using too much. Use it and draw. If you have a student that is going to spend some time on a project- buy good drawing paper- at least 60 # paper.   You can buy a nice pad of paper at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. If you intend to buy a lot of drawing paper I recommend Miller Pad and Paper Company.
  • Don’t be afraid to go big! This can be very freeing! Small can feel very accurate and technical and detailed. Let them try it big- not only is freeing some part of your right brain and creating  great excitement there – when it turns out well they will be so excited with their creation. It’s big!
  • Don’t necessarily go with a bright, bright white paper. It can be intimidating. To make a dark stroke on a clean sheet of paper is intimidating. To make it on a bright white paper can be frightening. Sometimes it can take some anxiety out by giving them a darker paper- or something just not bleached to a bright shining white 😉

Line Upon Line by Janice Arduini is another great drawing book.

NOW! These are big ideas that feel like they take a LOT of time and work. They do. But take it a little at a time just like you do everything else. This is not mastered or even attempted in one day!

You can always SIMPLIFY! If you want to take on drawing with your kids, but also know in reality you are not going to do this much…. this is my recommendation: buy a sketchbook. Work on tiny drawing lessons like these I’ve pinned on a journaling Pinterest board.  (I would recommend starting at the bottom of this board and moving up as I have pinned more complicated things as I’ve added to this board -relatively speaking.) Choose anything you or your child likes and just draw. I also have one board specifically for life drawing (humans in motion 😉 ) if you prefer. I hope to add more ideas in the future 😉 tell me what you want!