Lesson Plan Environmental Drawings
- Drawing board (clipboard or cardboard sheets)
- Colored pencils
- Magnifying lens
- Field guides
- Observe the environment and the plant life that it contains
- Discuss Mark Catesbys careful observation of the
- Create a drawing of a local landscape and record details
of plant life
CraftingNorthCarolina web site connections:
Early Glimpses of NC:
Scientist, writers, and artists explore NC's flora and fauna
Early Glimpses of NC:
18TH century artist / botanist draws NC nature
Look@Gallery: NC landscape
artist works with 4th graders to sketch environment
Explain that in science and art, plants
are often subjects of study and observation. In art, artists
are inspired to create still lifes and landscapes from their
observations. Why might artists want to observe nature carefully
before creating an artwork about it?
Look at artwork by artist and botanist Mark
. Look at the details captured in "Carolina
Magnolia." Point out the textures and colors that Catesby
has captured in his work. Discuss Catesbys mission
in Colonial America. Why is his work important to us today?
Discuss what type of art a landscape artist
creates? Look at the landscape drawings by 4th
graders in the Look@Gallery
- Take students on an observational sketching activity around
the school. Select an area with a view and a convenient
place where students can sit on the ground and sketch. If
possible, choose an area with lots of visual interest that
looks out onto forests, fields, or a park. Involve parent
helpers to act as guides and chaperones for this activity.
It is highly recommended that the teacher or parents scout
this area thoroughly before students arrive. Be on the lookout
for poison oak and ivy, and other hazards that students
might stumble upon.
- Pass out paper, pencil, and a drawing board to each student.
Have students begin by sketching an overview of the landscape.
Have them concentrate on specific shapes of trees and patterns
of light and dark areas found in the landscape. Allow approximately
thirty minutes for them to create a small drawing filling
approximately half of their paper. Instruct them to save
space at the bottom of their page for additional sketches
when they return to the classroom. As students work, encourage
them to make written observational notes along the margins
of their paper. These notes will be helpful when recalling
colors and details in the classroom.
- After students have finished sketching, ask them to walk
into the landscape and select one plant form for detail
-- wildflowers, weeds, leaves, pods, etc. Many items that
they select will be found lying on the ground. If not, ask
students to break off only a small sample of an object.
- Back in the classroom, have students observe their object
from all sides. A magnifying lens is helpful for careful
observation of tiny details. Ask them to describe how the
object feels to the touch. Now ask them to try and create
the feel and look of the object on their drawing paper.
Students should concentrate on the texture of their object
and try to capture shapes, variety of lines, patterns, and
light and dark areas that they observe. Encourage them to
add as many visual descriptions as possible as if they are
visually describing their object to someone who has never
seen it before.
- Have students use colored pencils to add color to their
- Finally, have field guides available to identify plant
forms or to answer questions that may arise as students
are working. If possible, have students label their drawings
with scientific names.
- Display the sketches. As students look at them, point
out how much information has been captured about the surrounding
environment. Ask students what new information they have
discovered because of their careful observations.
- Can students describe the environment and plant forms
that are found around their school? Do students understand
why artists learn to carefully observe objects before creating
an artwork about it? Do students understand the importance
of the work by early explorer-artists like Mark Catesby?
Why is it important that artists continue to record the