Prekindergarten and kindergarten Primary students love coming to the art studio once a week in the afternoon. Although I am a huge fan of process art where the process of creating is the main focus, I have discovered directed drawing also has its place. At the beginning of class, students meet me on the rug to watch as I draw shapes and lines that turn into an object they can recognize. Then it is their turn to draw. Students have clipboards with drawing paper attached. They follow along as I draw one line (or shape) at a time. Through this directed process, they are learning to find the lines and shapes in things that they see. Then is the fun part when they go to the table and finish their picture with watercolors, oil pastels, colored pencils etc.
What about students who think they have a hard time drawing? I am constantly reminding all out students how the art studio is a safe place to experiment, and we don’t worry about being perfect. You might hear me saying, “perfect is boring!” Directed drawing breaks down an object into simple lines and shapes, which helps ensure our students’ earliest art experiences are positive (so hopefully they will continue loving art as they grow older). Plus, Greensboro Montessori School students are great at asking for help if they feel they need it. As a teacher guide, I am there to encourage and assist when a child asks for help, but I mostly see the students growing in their confidence and having fun as they practice drawing.
Examples of Primary students’ directed drawings were on display at the 2019 Green & White Bash. I worked with YoungDoo Carey on creating an art series based on the four seasons. Students drew snowmen for winter, flowers for spring, ladybugs for summer, and leaves for fall. I gave selected drawings to YoungDoo, who digitized the drawings and created patterns for printing on fabric. YoungDoo then worked with Anne Schroth, owner of Red Canary Studios and a former Greensboro Montessori School parent, to print the patterns on various fabrics. Heather Goggin then used the fabric to create pillows, linen tea towels, and scarves.
While process art is at the heart of my teaching, I am finding a balance using both process art and directed drawing. Teaching both techniques is the best way to follow the child.
Katherine Gwynn is the visual arts faculty for Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary students. She is a mixed-media artist and her art studio is filled with a variety of materials for creating. Students in her classes are exposed to a wide variety of media, art styles and movements, specific artists, and terminology. She often supports the CASA program with enrichment activities, and in addition to her regular class, she maintains open studio time for Upper School students who are often engaged in elaborate projects. Katherine holds two bachelor’s degrees: one in interdisciplinary studies in art and design from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and another in social work from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.