This project followed on from our class on Abstract Cubist Still Life (click here to read more), inspired by Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), in which the children used simple outlines of cups, bowls, bottles etc. to create an abstract composition. I thought it would be interesting to work with the same Still Life objects again, but this time show the children how to draw them in a more realistic way. Instead of representing them as flat shapes, we had a go at drawing them in ‘perspective’ – as three dimensional objects.
I set out a number of containers (all with circular openings) on a low table – including two small bowls, a cup, a wine glass, a bottle, and a glass candle holder – so that the children could observe and then draw what they could see (rather than what they ‘think’ they look like!).
We discussed how you can actually see into the top of each container, and then I showed the kids how to draw an oval shape at the top, then the two sides, finishing with a curved line at the bottom.
I gave each child white paper and pencils to practise their own perspective drawings. Then, they chose their best drawings and traced over them in black pen or oil pastel, before cutting them out.
I wanted to show the children how to make their objects look like they were standing in real space. The Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came to mind. He painted domestic objects using only subtle tones of white, grey and pastel colours, in order to focus on the spatial relationships, the effects of light, and the simple beauty of his subject matter.
Morandi’s bottles and bowls are always pictured in shallow space, slightly overlapping each other, on a simple table top. I thought this approach would work well for the children’s pictures, so I gave them a piece of light grey paper with a strip of dark grey at the bottom to represent the table top.
They arranged their cut-out drawings on the paper, so that some were at the back, higher up, and some were further forward, lower down on the paper and overlapping. It was fun to see the drawings come to life and look like they had space around them!
This could be quite a hard concept for young children to grasp, but my 4-6 year olds enjoyed learning how to draw objects in perspective and produced some brilliant drawings!
Here are some examples…