A cat named Pickles? That’s what one first grader named the cat he drew in art this year. The children got so involved, they not only named their cats, they gave them collars and bows and made beautiful woven mats for their calico and tabby cats to sit on.
Their classroom teacher said they talked about their cats every day and couldn’t wait to come to art to add color and weave the mats. Those cats had come alive and jumped into their hearts. And it all began with careful looking.
That’s where we began with this series, too. We discovered the ways artists, as C.S. Lewis put it, “. . . look and go on looking till we have certainly seen exactly what is there.” When we did, we discovered how quick gesture drawing can help us see and describe body language. When we slowed down for contour drawing it revealed details important for making characters memorable. And noticing how negative space surrounds and helps define positive objects, conveying mood and what comes next to our readers.
Our creative right brain thrives on these exercises that show us different facets of a subject. But our right brain also excels at putting it all together to better understand the whole. And that’s where sighting comes in. It helps us discover relationships in size, shape, detail. And like the mats my first graders made for their cats, sighting weaves all the drawing strands together to create a unified understanding of the whole.
Let me show you how sighting works with this photo of a still life of 2 plush animals and 2 mugs. Once you start seeing the relationships, it’s hard to stop.
- The bear and the bunny are sitting in similar poses (gesture) but the bear is taller, and its legs are wider apart (creating a different negative space).
- Close in on the animals and explore the differences in details (contour), such as different shaped ears, faces, and foot pads.
- For the mugs, notice which one is taller, and which one is more rounded.
- Look at the different negative spaces created by the handles. See how the bunny and bear’s feet appear in and change that negative space.
- Look at the details of the designs on each mug.
The ability to notice relationships through sighting will spill over into your writing. When you picture a scene in your story, your right brain’s super power will help you notice not only the separate details, but see them in relationship to other parts of the scene.
Are you ready to weave all these exercises together to create a special cat . . . er . . . character? Because if you are, you’d better have a name ready before it jumps off the page! What are some favorite names you might choose for a cat or other character?
Stay tuned each 4th Monday for more posts to help you discover new paths to creativity.
Kathy O’Neill is an art teacher who loves to show everyone they can draw. Visit her website http://www.kathy-oneill.com/ to discover more about her writing and workshops, and her blog https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/ for a Christian view of great art and related projects and devotions for children. Kathy’s goal is to engage children’s and adult’s hearts, hands and minds to discover God and their own creativity through art, history, and nature