Sunday, January 9, 2011

Studio Visit Project: Paul Klee "Lines, Dots and Circles"

 A Drawing  by Paul Klee

Here is an amazing drawing lesson for very young children. It was inspired by artist Paul Klee's "Pedagogical Notebooks," two volumes based on Klee's teaching at the Bauhaus, the legendary art and architecture school. The "Notebooks" describe Klee's ideas about the fundamentals of drawing. While his ideas are sophisticated, they are readily accessible to children. Children learn that art is composed of lines, dots and circles, and that they can create many, many drawings using these simple elements. They also learn that "Lines, Dots and Circles" are part of an art “vocabulary” that will help them talk about their drawings.

Here are the materials you will need for the 
"Lines, Dots and Circles" project: A large dining table (or the floor) Crayons (beeswax are non-toxic and nice and bright) A roll of paper approximately 18”x20 feet.  Painter’s Tape (easy-release) to hold down the paper.

The "Lines, Dots and Circles" drawing project can be a great game. Uma (two years old) and I "played" it. Here is a how you can "play" it with your child. 

We put on some favorite music, taped an 18” x 40” piece of paper to the dining room table, and took out a few crayons.

(Draw a long line. Try to make it a kind of performance.)
(Draw and talk as you walk along drawing the long line.)
“Here is a long, long line.”
(Repeat) “Here is another long line.” 
“Two long lines.” "Let's draw some lines together."
(You and your child walk along and draw long lines.) 
“What color is this line?” “What color is this one?”

(Draw a long wiggley line.)
"Look at this wiggley line.”
(Draw several wiggley lines in different colors.)
“Wiggley blue, wiggley red, wiggley green.”
(Draw fast. Slow.)
“Fast. Slow.”
(You and your child draw lines, dots, and wiggley lines faster and slower.)
“This line is sooo long."
" This line is so short.”
“This line is so wiggley.”
Stand back (many times) to admire your work.

(Draw a small dot.)
“Here is a dot.”
(You and your child draw dots, small dots, big dots.)
"Let's draw lots of dots."
"They look like rain."

“Let’s draw some circles”
(Draw some big circles.
“Round and round, big circles.”
(Move your arm round and round.)
(You and your child draw circles. )
(I gently moved her arm in big circles until she caught on and did it herself.)
(Draw some medium-size circles over and over.)
“Medium size circles, round and round.”
(You and your child draw circles.)
“Round and round.”
(Draw small circles.)
“Small circles, round and round.”
(You and your child draw some small circles.)
(Talk about the circles.)
“Three circles, one big, one medium, one small.”
(Draw two eyes, a nose and a big smile inside each circle.)
“Smiley faces. Who are they? Momma, Poppa, and you?”
(Draw Momma’s curly hair with wiggley lines.)
“Look Momma’s curly hair.”

"Let's draw some animals! "
"Old MacDonald's animals."
"And on his farm he had a..."
(Draw a small circle for the head.)
(Draw a larger circle for the body.)
(Draw little triangles for ears.)
(Draw four lines for legs and one for a tail.)
“Look! It’s a sheep.”
(Draw some circles for a cat.)
“Meow, it’s a cat.”
“What other animals does Old MacDonald have?”
(Draw more circles for a horse, two ears, four legs, a tail.)
“Let's draw Mary Mary, how does her garden grow?”
(Draw some flowers, a dot for the center, loops around for the petals.)
(Draw a circle for the sun. Draw some lines radiating out.)
“The sun helps the flowers grow.”
(Draw some more flowers.)
“The garden has lots of flowers.
Stand back (many times) to admire your work.

After about 10 minutes (a long time), ask “Is this drawing finished?"
“Yes? Let’s tape it to the wall.”
(Tape the drawing to the wall with the easy-release Painter’s Tape.)
Put it at the child’s height.)
(Talk about the lines, the dots and the circles.)
(Talk about drawing playdates with your family and friends.)
Your child will enjoy showing her drawing and explaining it.
You can help her describe the drawing using the terms she has learned.

Uma poses in front of her drawing "Lines, Dots and Circles"

Here are some links to Paul Klee and his Pedagogical Notebooks:

Paul Klee's (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. Klee and his colleague, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humour, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.

Paul Klee in his studio

Paul Klee's Pedagogical Notebooks contain his lectures at the Bauhaus art and architecture school, in the 1920s in Germany. These volumes are considered so important for understanding modern art, they are compared to the importance that Leonardo's A Treatise on Painting had for the Renaissance. Herbert Read, the art philosopher, called the "Notebooks" "the most complete presentation of the principles of design ever made by a modern artist. The volumes constitute the Principia Aesthetica of a new era of art, in which Klee occupies a position comparable to Newton's in the realm of physics."

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