5 Basic Elements of Shape
In Drawing with Children, Mona Brookes uses basic yet, motivating techniques to enhance drawing and creativity in children as well as adults. Her drawing methods were originally intended to be used as a preventive medicine for kids. Brookes claims drawing is much like speaking—a natural human response (1986). Children draw in every culture whether with pencil and paper or shells in the sand. Drawing what they see as important to them, children from everywhere draw people, their homes, trees, and animals. Beginning with only the knowledge that most people stopped drawing by the time they were age nine, Brookes developed an art curriculum for a large preschool. Her approach includes teaching children an alphabet of five elements of shape and how to recognize those basic shapes in objects they see. The curriculum insists on an enjoyable, noncompetitive and nonjudgmental environment that gives kids the freedom to create their own unique artwork. The child learns there is no wrong way to draw and everyone can be successful (1986). Visual perception warm-ups and eye relaxation techniques assist kids in more than just drawing. “Before you even put pen to paper, it is important to release the tensions of the day and relax mind, body, and eyes” (Brookes, 1986, p. 49). Reports of reading levels and math abilities improving as well as problem-solving skills, social skills, and self-esteem advances were enough to encourage Brookes to provide in-service training to teachers throughout California.
Brookes begins her drawing instruction by encouraging students to discuss their attitude toward their own drawing. Through this discussion, she dispels myths and insures success if desired. Much like Edwards, Brookes first gives drawing assignments without instruction. Students find a huge boost in confidence after comparing their drawings after training. The book provides simple lines and shapes for copying. These lines and shapes progress to designs requiring more time but not more difficulty. Brookes stresses to emphasize to students that more detailed images or subjects are not harder, they just need more time and attention (1986). Play visual games with the five elements of shape and participating in a variety of warm-up exercises, some similar to Edwards’ drills, Brookes’ method is non-threatening and fun. Brookes places extra emphasis on feelings and transforming or changing drawings to meet the artist’s personal satisfaction. She also suggests lightly drawing guideline dots, positive and negative space exercises, shading exercises, and drafting templates. Brookes concludes her book with giving students permission to copy from other drawings. “Children need to feel free to use an idea from wherever they see it and feel complimented when their idea inspires someone else” (Brookes, 1986, p. 204).
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The Five Basic Elements of Shape is the foundation of Mona Brooke's drawing methods.
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Monart, School of the Arts