I draw ballerinas all the time now, I just needed someone to show me how. ~Aubriel
It was music to an art teachers ears. One of my students said this the other day and it made me so very happy. I was nervous about teaching 1-3rd graders to draw ballerinas for our Edgar Degas lesson. Little did I know, it would be one of my favorite classes to teach yet. We had such a great time together drawing ballerinas.
To teach this lesson you will need:
- good Drawing Pencils and an Eraser
- chalk pastels
- charcoals if desired
- aerosol hair spray for fixative
As always, I began my lesson with a little about Edgar Degas and we looked at several of his paintings of ballerinas. But I wanted to give them as much time as possible to work on their drawings so we didn’t spend a ton of time on that.
Before we began to draw, I told them that the first few sketches are for practice. That way they didn’t have to feel pressured; often they end up keeping them anyway because even their first tries are so good. But it also gives them an out if they don’t like what they see and some time for me to offer guidance.
I try to get them sketching first with very light lines so that erasing is extra easy for them. Learning how to draw a ballerina could bring frustration for the perfectionist child if they can’t achieve what they envision, because drawing skills take time and practice to develop, so I always place emphasis on the process. I point out their successes as much as possible. Keep in mind that I have already discussed several concepts with my students such as perspective and overlapping that are helpful to know for this lesson. So my students already understand why, for example, the ballerina’s legs are not visible- since the tutu is over the top. For that reason, they are only drawing portions of the legs and feet. Be sure to explain this as you go if your child will not already understand.
Step by Step How to Draw a Ballerina
While I try not to confine my students to a particular approach, for this lesson I took them through a simple step by step how to draw a ballerina and chose a simple body position to teach all together. I went through each step with them one at a time. It is a good beginning for a one time class. I also helped them with drawing basic faces because I knew a few of them were unsure about that. Once I showed them how easy the lines are to make, they gained a new confidence in doing the drawing-which made me feel so good as a teacher. The tutu and hair were my favorite things to teach.
Once they had their ballerina sketched it was time to add color with pastels. This gave me the chance to teach them a bit about blending and shading. For example, adding a darker value of the same color for creases or folds in the tutu.
One last thing to note is that not all boys will want to draw ballerinas, so perhaps this may be a lesson more for girls. That’s just something to keep in mind. I had one boy in my class and he didn’t mind so much because he loves pastels. But as an alternative for boys, you can have them draw horse racing scenes or a rider on a horse. Edgar Degas also painted many of those scenes as well.
My student’s work:
Post any questions and concerns you may have about doing this lesson in your homeschool. I’d love to encourage you and offer any help I can.