Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Art Class: Comics

This week, in our Sunday morning art class, I taught the boys a little something about comics. What kid doesn't love comics, right? We read a ton of graphic novels in our house and I know all the boys are into Calvin and Hobbs - so I thought a little visual storytelling might be fun for them and a good chance to practice some of their drawing skills.

First, I asked the boys to develop a character and draw it a few times. I reminded them to keep it simple but distinct - for example - a T-shirt with a dragon on it is complicated to draw over and over again - but a T-shirt with a smiley face is easy and distinct. That sort of thing.

When they had their "dudes" all ready to go, I gave them a 4-panel assignment.
Panel 1: They needed to have their character, a door, and a key
Panel 2: The character picks up the key.
Panel 3: The character unlocks the door.
Panel 4: The character opens the door. What's inside?

They could draw anything they wanted as long as each panel had those aspects in it.

And here's what they drew:

Mo's character was Max. Max has a lot of crazy hair (kinda like Mo.) I like how Mo drew a question mark in the first panel and I thought it was interesting that the door was a sort of barred prison door.

It's too small to read but I believe (in Panel 4) Max is saying something like, "Wow! I'm in Mario World!" and he's dressed as Mario.

Curly created a little dude named Matthew. He made a door much like his brother's, but I LOVE how the key is dangling from a rope in this one.

In Panel 3, Matthew is imagining an explosion. I'm not sure if needed an explosive since the key seemed to work just fine - but hey, maybe that was Plan B. Then, the reveal is that there was a game cube or Wii or some sort of video game console in the back room - which, for Curly, is better than a sack full of diamonds!

It's interesting to note how the space is being used. Curly started off pretty good - but then all of the details of his drawing shrunk. Both Heather and I kept trying to drop friendly reminders to "use the space" but I think the boys are concentrating on other aspects of the art, and size is the thing that get's left behind.

Magoo's character was a robber and when he opened the door a large pile of gold coins came tumbling out covering the robber up to his head.

Magoo did a pretty good job with the space and he did an even better job of over-coming his "standard" body type: large shoulder pads and wing arms.

I struggle sometimes with how much to guide him in his drawing style. On one hand, I want him to be able to express himself visually how he chooses and I LOVE some of his older art featuring a penguin with three eyes or some other "quirky aspects" that might not be "correct." But I also know that developing an eye for details and being able to draw them is part of growing and learning. The trick (for me) is to guide him gently to his next natural step of artistic development and try not to have him feel forced to do things "my way."

Each week, that part gets a little easier for both of us.

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