Higher Level Drawing Skills

The ideas that underpin this drawing activity were developed for the A.E.V. Conference by Max Darby in November, 2012


This activity is based on the approach that Higher Level Drawing Skills can only be developed by ensuring that students use Higher Level Thinking Skills when they’re doing their drawings…and it’s a teacher’s responsibility to ensure that drawing activities require students to use their thinking skills. 


The two quotes that were referred to during the Conference session were –


Its’ not that children make drawings, but that drawing makes children




Challenge children to think not just to draw. Drawing then becomes a thinking medium rather than just an art medium.



The ‘Process Drawing’.

The drawing is very large – 3 meters x 1.5 meters.

The series of photographs that can be seen in the 2 galleries below show the development of one large drawing over time – photographed on ‘time delay’ each time the drawing changed.

It can be seen in its beginning stage and the following photographs show it slowly developing from a totally white surface until it becomes heavily blackened with charcoal.

From the midway point the drawing had no more charcoal added and the only marks applied were made using an eraser – drawing back into the black with clean white marks.

Eventually most of the blackness disappeared and only blurred smudges constitute the final drawing.

It is important to realize that the final drawing product is this blurred stage shown below which is not just a surface where the drawing has been removed.

The drawing could have been stopped at many stages along the way and many would have been an effective expression of the land.

The charcoal that once formed some stages of the drawing lies in rubbings on the floor.



The point of this drawing and the way it has been recorded is that making a judgement about the drawing as it ended provided no evidence of the working and thinking skills or processes that were active during its transition from white to black and then back to white.

For teachers engaged in assessing students, the working processes involved in the making of this work and many other student artworks are more important than the final product. In fact, in this example, the ‘working processes could be considered the final product’.

Further, the idea that artworks need to meet expected outcomes is useless in such exciting examples. 



Please let me know of other exciting drawing examples you’ve done, seen or introduced to students.





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One Response to “Higher Level Drawing Skills”

  1. Susan Maygar says:

    Max you should definitly present this activity as a workshop. It would be great to see you do so sometime next year. I would love to work with this technique

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