Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I did these pen & ink/watercolor paintings with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students last year. I'll be doing watercolors with all of my students soon, but I realized I never posted these. I think they turned out really nice.

Background: Since we live in Fort Lauderdale, the ocean is a large part of my students' daily lives. Not the "Spring-Break-Girls-Gone-Wild" beach that everyone thinks of when they think Fort Laud or Miami's South Beach, but the calm, quiet, still ocean that those of us who live here year 'round know and love. The water is clear and blue, the sunrises are amazing, and the evening breeze is one of the most revitalizing and calming sensations you'll ever experience. This is the ocean my students and I discussed when preparing for this lesson.

Process: Three 40 min. classes
1. Discuss foreground, middle ground, and background. Students followed along with me to begin the drawing, beginning with large palm-like fronds in the foreground. We then discussed the horizon line, and how placement of elements in relation to the horizon line changes the perception of perspective. Students could choose their own elements to add to the middle ground (water) and background (sky).

2. Nib pen instruction and inking the drawing. There were a number of ink splatters as students became comfortable with the nib pens and a few spills, as well. Next time I'll use deeper ink wells (I just used condiment cups) and have a pen rest available (students kept wanting to put the pens in the cups when they weren't using them, causing the wells to tip...this only happened maybe 4 times, but that's 4 times mess too many...ugh.) We talked about line variation, and students practiced on a test sheet before beginning to ink their drawing.

3. Paint with watercolor. We tested wet-on-wet for the water, let that dry for a few minutes, then used wet-on-dry or dry-on-dry for the rest.

I really love the results, and using the nib pens made the students feel like real artists (they are!).

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