In Drawing Animals, Rex Robinson demonstrates a three-step method of drawing animals. By
following this process-and by practicing-artists are able to draw anything they want. Student artists
can learn to draw anything they want, too!
Drawing animals as an example of the process of "representational linear description" (or,
how to draw anything you want!).
One hour is generally enough time to begin on the third step, when students finish the face or accent
area and complete a contour (outline) of the animal. Another session would provide time to complete the
image and its basic environment. Practice in the skills increases confidence, accuracy, and speed.
The challenge of drawing something develops the greatest degree of observation and awareness as well
as hand-eye coordination skills. The more realistic the drawing is, the more intense the experience becomes.
Drawing Animals will:
- increase observation skills and awareness, enabling the viewer to "see" what the student is
- inspire the investigation of natural design and function.
- allow students to break complex subjects into workable large, medium, and small shapes by using
the process of general to specific.
- encourage students to cross the creative threshold of self-expression comfortably. Beginning
around the 4th grade, students need examples and assistance for their drawing ability to mature.
- increase self-confidence and freedom of expression.
- demystify fine art and visual expression and make it more accessible to students.
- proclaim to students that we are all art students together (if we use both sides of our brains).
- propose that the main differences between an experienced art student (artist) and young art
students are an understanding of process and practice, practice, practice.
- demonstrate that people who can write their names can draw (with desire and practice).
- help students communicate ideas, solve problems, and express themselves.
Related Artists/Art Works
- All the numbered reproductions are available from Art Connection (see the resource list on page 22). Download the Art On-Air guide for these resources.
- John James Audubon, *Wild Turkey (#7534, $22 retail), *Mallard Ducks, Cardinal Gross Beak,
American Gold Finch
- Debra Butterfield, *Untitled (horse sculpture, Speed Museum Collection)
- Albrecht Dürer, *Young Hare (#2040, $9 retail), Little Owl (#2033, $7 retail)
- Charles Landseer, The Sutherland Children (Speed Museum Collection)
- Pablo Picasso, Bullfight (#5105, $18 retail)
- Frederic Remington, Arizona Cowboy (#1146, $3.50 retail)
- Norman Rockwell, A Boy and His Dog-Pride of Parenthood (#2684, $7 retail)
* Particularly good examples to use with students.
- John James Audubon, Robin, Canvasback Ducks
- Albrecht Dürer, Squirrels (#2037, $8 retail)
- Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Evening (#1003, $3.50 retail)
- Georgia O'Keeffe, Ram's Skull with Brown Leaves (#7573, $25 retail)
- Paulus Potter, The White Horse (#1123, $3.50 retail)
- Frederic Remington, The Scout: Friends or Enemies (#1197, $3.50 retail)
- The Yoruba People, "Carved Door Panels" (coiled snake carving, Speed Museum Collection)
Connections to Educational Standards
The following Kentucky Academic Expectations are all related to Drawing Animals:
- 1.13: Students make sense of ideas and communicate with the visual arts.
- 1.3: Students make sense of the various things they observe.
- 2.22: Students create works of art and make presentations to convey a point of view.
- 2.23: Students analyze their own and others' artistic products.
- 2.24: Students appreciate creativity and values of the arts and the humanities.
- 2.25: In the products they make and the performances they present, students show that they
understand how time, place, and society influence the arts and humanities such as languages,
literature, and history.
- 2.26: Through the arts and humanities, students recognize that although people are different,
they share some common experiences and attitudes.
- 5.1: Students use critical thinking skills such as analyzing, prioritizing, categorizing,
evaluating, and comparing to solve a variety of problems in real-life situations.
- 5.2: Students use creative thinking skills to develop or invent novel, constructive ideas or
- 6.3: Students expand their understanding of existing knowledge by making connections with new
knowledge, skills, and experiences.
- pencils (2b, 4b, 6b, or any drawing tool)
- eraser (gum, kneaded)
- paper (drawing or all-purpose)
- models (Photographs or pictures from such sources as Audubon, Ranger Rick, National Geographic,
or nature posters may be used-the larger the better. Mounted animals are preferable; these can
sometimes be borrowed from university biology or history departments, parents, taxidermists,
museums, or other sources.)
- watercolor pencils and markers
- watercolor brushes (larger for wash, smaller for detail)
- watercolor paper
Other approaches could include any drawing tools and paper.
Vocabulary Used in the Lesson
- blocking in
- contour line
- geometric shapes
- negative space (shape)
- realistic art
- sighting (sight measuring)
Students are highly motivated by animals and have an urgency to communicate the subject with
believability and accuracy. As young art students mature, their technical drawing ability generally
requires demonstration and assistance from a more experienced artist. Once students see the process
broken down, they can apply it to any subject. Showing examples of realistic art highlights the beauty,
design, and information that inspired the artist to apply the required discipline and effort. After
students can express themselves realistically, other modes of expression are opened up.
The best inspiration is the real thing. Animals have complex detail and exact proportion difficult to
see in a living, moving creature. Using borrowed mounted animals as models, students can take their time
to follow each step of the demonstration. If such models are not available or if you have a personal
objection to using them, photographs may be used as described under "Materials" above. While students
work, each animal is demonstrated to round out the example and increase the understanding of the process.
Personal assistance and encouragement should always be available.
- Have students align their pencils to the subject and find the longest, straightest lines
vertically and horizontally, then lightly start placement on paper. They should block in with
pencil and lightly draw the largest, most basic shapes. Next they add medium and smaller shapes.
*Helpful hint: Have students check their drawing using measurement, at least by comparing height
to width. With their arms straight toward the subject, they hold the pencil perpendicular. Then
they should sight over the top at the edge of the animal and slide the thumb down until they
sight the measurement.
- Have students round off the geometric shapes with a more naturalistic contour line. At this point,
they define features (eyes, ears, and nose) and other medium-size areas.
- Have students fill in areas with lines of information (i.e., textures, colors, values, size/length,
and direction). They should emphasize how the lines follow the form; for example, radiating lines
around a cylinder (a tail) brings out the form or creates a three-dimensional effect. Having one
main light source on the subject brings out light, medium, and dark values. Pushing or
exaggerating the value range and textures in line clarifies the drawing. Suggest that students
finish the work with some suggestion of grass or the animal's natural environment.
- As a final check, tell students to squint at their drawings, closing their eyes almost all the
way, to see the strongest lights and darks. Generally, good value range makes a work more
visible and follows a formula of 1/4 lights, 1/4 darks, and 1/2 middle values.
After the pencil process is practiced and understood, students could add color with watercolor pencils
and/or markers. They should continue to use lines of information rather than "color in" outlines.
Using a damp brush and a little water can soften under edges and areas. The top and forward areas should
be kept dry.
- Survey how artists have responded to nature and animals from cave drawings to the present.
- Cut out animal drawings, reinforce them with stiff paper, make a set, and choreograph a play
showing actions and reactions between animals and between animals and people.
- Concentrate on grade-appropriate themes: a backyard pond; Kentucky animals; endangered species;
animals of the continents, history, or pre-history.
- Create collages of animal photos in the shapes of states, continents, etc.
- Take a photo trip to a zoo.
- Illustrate poems, stories, or songs about animals, nature, and pets.
Field Trip Destination
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
#1 Game Farm Road
Frankfort, KY 40601
Call (502) 564-6508 for information about programs and materials available to schools. The Game Farm
provides students with the opportunity to observe a variety of Kentucky wildlife.
Edwards, Betty. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
Sources for Reproductions
Attn: Sue Jarvis
111 East Second Street
Owensboro, KY 42301
John James Audubon reproductions are available from:
Audubon Museum Gift Shop
P.O. Box 576
Henderson, KY 42420
Don Boarman, Director
Speed Museum Collection reproductions are available from:
J.B. Speed Art Museum
2035 South Third Street
P.O. Box 2600
Louisville, KY 40201
(502) 636-2893 for tours
Available from Nasco Arts & Crafts
Art Lessons for Children, Volume 5 (videotape) ($29.95)
de Reyau, Rudy. How To Draw What You See ($16.95)
Foster, Walton T. How To Draw Dogs (also Horses, Animals, Cats, and Trees) ($6.95 each)
How To Draw Dinosaurs (also Animals) ($4.95 each)
Of Animals and Birds (art history) seven-print collection ($67.65)
The Usborne Complete Book of Drawing ($14.95)
Thanks to the J.B. Speed Museum for allowing KET to reproduce two images from its collection:
Deborah Butterfield, American, born 1949
Untitled (Horse), 1981
Paper and stick on wire armature
Height: 8'6"; Length: 14'; Depth: 3'
Acc. No. 82.1; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Heuser Sr.
attributed to Charles Landseer, British, 1799-1879
The Sutherland Children
Oil on canvas
Height: 23-3/4"; Width: 19-3/4"
Acc. No. 64.31.6; Gift of Mrs. Blakemore Wheeler
Last Updated: Monday, 29-Dec-2008 15:23:24 EST