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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Drawing American Sign Language Hands

My private art lessons are very organic-what we study ebbs and flows with what I think the student would be interested in or in an area they may need to develop further. One day, my student and her mom were discussing a piece my student had done (at home) and there was some, ahem, disagreement as to how readable the hand was in the drawing. After a little more discussion, my student admitted that, although she felt she drew hands perfectly fine, they were "hard" and she "hated drawing them." Hmmmm...well, never one to shy away from a challenge, I tried to think of a way we could practice drawing hands in a way that seemed fun. 


This spells "ART."

So, here's what we did:

The first week, we spent practicing drawing hands in different positions. I found this great tutorial online at Neon Dragon Art that I thought would work well to illustrate the anatomy of the hand as well as seeing a hand as a 3D form from the beginning. We worked our way through the different variations Jessica "Neon Dragon" Peffer presented, using our own hands as "models." It is quite difficult to draw something as complex as the human hand--especially when you don't want to! But we kept trying and trying. We had a couple shaky starts and we needed to keep remembering to look at our 3D models--our own hand, and draw what we saw, not what we thought was there.

Once my student was confident drawing hands in a variety of positions, I brought out the American Sign Language chart that shows the letters of the alphabet using photos of hands. We practiced the letters and she chose a word she wanted illustrate. At first she chose "CREATE" but the thought of drawing 5 more hands (one for each letter of the word) proved too much so she settled on "ART" instead.

She did a great job drawing the hands in pencil and then outlining them in Sharpie. For the background, she chose to do a Jackson Pollock-inspired drippy painting using watercolors and temperas that she drizzles and splattered all over. The colors were custom-mixed--she had a plan--they are her favorite colors.

Once everything was done, she brought the pieces together (making sure the hands were in the correct order). She was very happy with her piece (as am I!) and *hopefully* she'd say it isn't too bad drawing hands after all.

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