Frame & Name

As an art teacher, years ago, when I taught all the grade 5, 6 and 7 art classes at school, I’d hand each child their paper and say,

“Draw your frame and name.”

Obviously I wanted their names to keep track of each student’s work, but somehow, just the physical act of drawing a freehand line along all 4 sides of the page changed the terrifying blank page into a clearly defined (and now not-so-perfect) working space.

I love how Tricia of Hodgepodge encourages her children to not only write their names, but to actually “name” the art piece … but that comes at the end of the art lesson … and at the back of the art work.

I like to use the frame.

Drawn nice and wide, break in into blocks and use these for tonal color swatches, texture techniques, reinforcing the technical concepts that we will use in the actual work.

But frames “complete” a page. Just compare these 2 simple sketches:

without a frame ~

with a frame ~

And I sometimes encourage the kids to “break through a frame”~

Do you know how to draw quick fairly straight frames?

art 001

  1. Hold your pencil clenched under the last 3 fingers so that the pencil points past the thumb at right angles to the pointing finger. 
  2. Extend the pointer finger and grip the thumb on top of the pencil.
  3. Drag the pointer finger along the paper’s edge while gently pressing the thumb down to angle the pencil tip on to the paper.
  4. Your frame width is determined by how much of the pencil points out past the thumb.  Simply hold the pencil closer for a narrow frame, or further away from the fingers for a wider frame.
  5. Turn the paper to draw each side, and hold the hand and pencil still, at the same angle.  It is easier and quicker than moving the pencil to each side!

Go ahead and give it a try!  Draw a frame and jot down your name on your next sketch and don’t forget to add a title and date.


5 thoughts on “Frame & Name

  1. Now I understand why you’re so good with art, you were an art teacher! Thanks for the tip about drawing straight lines, I have always just tried drawing soft but fast line, then it comes out fairly straight. I personally also prefer frames I think because it blocks off the space, makes it smaller (doesn’t feel so overwhelming), and it just finishes off so nicely.


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