Art Lessons

Someone asked me how to teach someone art lessons and whether or not they should do it. Here's what I told them.

I taught an 11 year old girl in my home for a year (before I moved to Michigan) and this is what I did.

I started with the basics. I taught her the elements of art (line, space, color, texture, shape, form, value, balance). I taught what each one was in different lessons and she did drawings to incorporate each element.

line- line drawings, how thick line comes forward, thin recedes. vertical line means firm and stable, horizontal means peace and rest and diagonal means movement.

space- foreground, middleground, background; perspective; tension points by objects too close, how to measure with the eye and a pencil an object you are drawing

color- color theory lessons, mixing color, colorwheel, monochromatic, polychromatic, achromatic

texture- show how to paint a texture or draw a texture...fuzzy towels, furry animal, smooth metal spoon etc. explain how texture becomes less in shadow and more in light

shape- positive and negative shape drawings, basic shape lessons

form- lighting lessons and shadow lessons, basic drawing an egg lesson, cast shadow, form shadow, reflected light

value- grayscale, tints, shades, monochromatic painting

balance- symmetrical, asymmetrical, positive space, negative space relationship

These lessons take a long time because you may spend more than one lesson on each element. I usually spent a months worth of lessons on an element. Then come up with an assignment where they incorporate a certain number of the elements of art in one work. Following all this, just begin on technique and practice and maybe human proportions etc. My student was a great girl and it was fun to watch her talent develop. I really liked teaching one on one rather than a gaggle of disinterested classmates. There were much better results.

So anyone thinking of teaching, go for it and good luck. It's fun to get back to the roots of art we take for granted. You really start to think about them in your own art again too. Just as Picasso, Monet, and Vangough, you have to learn the rules before you can break them. Only after a solid foundation can you truly express yourself well and show the emotion you desire in your work.

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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at

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