Alexander Calder Lesson

American sculptor, Alexander Calder is the inspiration for this (amazing) lesson. Calder is known for his kinetic sculptures and is the creator of the mobile! One of the most fascinating things about Calder is he kept a roll of wire in his pocket and would sculpt instead of draw what he saw. I put him in the creative genius category in my brain. Had Calder and I had lived during the same time, I like to think we would have been friends because of our like-minded view of art.

Calder Quotes Worth Reading

“Above all art should be fun.”  
“To an engineer, good enough means perfect. With an artist, there’s no such thing as perfect.” 

Calder’s wire sculptures are so interesting and are very similar to contour line drawings, so it was a natural starting point. Contour drawing is drawing in one continuous line (without picking up your pencil/pen). Blind Contour drawing is drawing without looking at your paper and picking up your pencil!

Why is learning contour drawing important? Contour drawing strengths your power of observation by forcing your eye to really look at what you are drawing (instead of drawing what you think something looks like). Contour drawing also increase hand-eye coordination (not to mention, it’s really fun).

Excise 1: 5th Grade Blind Contour Drawings of Your Partner 


Exercise 2: Contour Drawing of Supplies 


Exercise 3: The Contour Self Portrait 


Exercise 4: The Wire! 

Using wire is not easy and creating something as personal as a self portrait can be frustrating, but these 5th graders are really working hard and diligently problem solving. Wire does not flow as easily as drawing a pencil line, the important part is that students are creating with different materials and trying different ways to achieve the end result!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison




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