Studies have shown that in the simple lesson of a student drawing from life, they are actually training their eyes to truly see an object for what it is instead of their mental concept of that object. For example, when asked to draw a nose, a student might draw two circles because they know there are two nostrils. However, with skill and practice, they will see that there us much more to the construction of a nose, which will eventually be reflected in their drawing of one. Over time, these exercises improve hand-eye coordination, increase concentration, and help a child to observe the world around them. Not only that, but plenty of common core standards can be applied to drawing exercises. The Da Vinci Initiative is developing a set of free cross-circular lesson plans to help integrate these subjects into the art classroom.
How do we make observational drawing exciting and challenging? Encourage students to go out in the world and look at objects. What color are they? What shape? What texture? How big or small? See how long they can stare at something without looking away. Show them examples of what is possible with master still life drawings. Ask them to bring in and draw their favorite object. Simply changing the angle a student views a subject can make a world of difference. For more ideas and evidence for skill-based education, check out educational resources on The Da Vinci Initiative's website.