I like to keep things simple.
So here's another simple lesson that looks great, and the kids love it too.
I usually do this with primary 6 and 7, but it can easily be adapted for younger ages and you don't have to go with cityscapes you could do any template; a butterfly would look great.
I tend to break this up into two lessons, the first lesson the template and the soft pastel outline, the second lesson the oil pastel buildings, river and reflection. You could easily do it in one lesson, but for now I'll break it down into two.
1. Draw out a simple outline of a cityscape on paper. This can be done on any size of paper, I tend to work A3 or A4.
2. Cut out the drawing. When working with kids I share with them to turn it upside down and cut out from the sky, it makes it easier and less likely to cut the wrong bits out. A great support if kids are unsure, is to take a pencil and draw marks on the bits to cut out.
3. Get a sheet of black paper, same size as you used for your template. Tape the four corners to the table, with a little bit of masking tape, this is to hold it in place so it doesn't move when you are adding the soft pastels.
4. Decide where you want the template, I like to leave room in the sky for a moon.
5. Use masking tape rolled over to stick down the template gently to the black paper (as you want to be able to peel this off later, if too hard it might rip) You don't need much, just a little bit as support to keep the paper in place, and also so the soft pastels don't go underneath it.
6. Chose your colours and go round the edge of the template. I keep one finger along the edge where I am working, as an extra little support so the pastels don't go underneath. If they do you can rub them out later.
7. Your choice here, smudge the pastels or leave it as it is. When I smudge them I use different fingers so the colours don't get mixed. . Gently blow off excess dust. Then carefully peel off the template. Don't throw this away, as it can be used for an extension lesson. Store somewhere carefully until following lesson as the soft pastel can smudge. You could spray it with fixative, or strong hold hairspray to stop it smudging, but depending on the paper used, this can dull the colours or leave marks.
1. Time to fill in the buildings - using oil pastels, I talk about light, mid and dark tone and how to blend oil pastels; this can be in any colours they want. Some kids go for one range of colour e.g. light to dark blue, (I prefer working in this way) and some kids like to use a mixture of colours, e.g light pink, mid orange and a dark green, Both are equally okay.
2. They can add lights to the buildings and extend them further down the page. Remembering to leave space for the water at the bottom. If they have drawn a moon, you could use oil pastels here too.
3. Creating the water and reflection is really simple, almost like sketchy lines with the oil pastels, leaving parts of the black paper showing through. I like to use a couple of different blues and a deep turquoise, though one child asked me if he could use purple instead of turquoise and it worked really well. Again personal preference.
4. Adding the reflection to the water is easy, think of looking at a river at night where the lights are reflected. One thing I would suggest is don't do all the buildings as this can be a bit much, but it's entirely up to you. I don't colour the reflection in solid, just a little hint of the colour of the buildings and lights through the water. .
Use the original white template to draw on. You could look at attention to detail, pattern, line and tone.
Gyl works as an art and design teacher with primary school children. Having previously taught art and design at high school, worked at the Venice Bienalle, and as an arts lecturer at further education college. She also enjoys making her own work.