Using a grid to draw

In our Art Appreciation lessons we love to copy great art works and images.  An easy way to accurately copy pictures is by using a grid.  Here are some of our Peerneef artworks we painted using a grid ~

Instead of drawing the grid from scratch each time, I created transparent grid lines on MSWord in several sizes which you can lay over any image.  Here’s your free download ~ Transparent grid

To create your own grid over a picture  do the following ~

  1. Download and save the Transparent Grid to your computer.
  2. Open a new Word document.
  3. Insert the image you want to use for your art work.  You need to click”Wrap Text” on the top menu and select “In Front of Text” so that you can freely move and position your image.
  4. Open the Transparent Grid doc and select and copy the grid size best suited for your image. (Use the very small blocks for very detailed pictures, or the large grid blocks for larger shaped images)
  5. Paste the grid over your image and position as needed.
  6. Save.
  7. You can work directly from your computer screen onto your own art paper or print out your image with the grid.

Here’s an important CHEAT ~ You can create a pencil sketch of your image using the free photo editing package “Picasa“.

Open the image in Picasa, select the blue icon “Even more fun and useful image processing” button, click the “Pencil Sketch” option, and “Save as”.  Now insert this outline image in your grid for even easier copying!

Prepare your own art page and create a grid to match your printout, in the same ratio of blocks across in rows and down the side, but these blocks can be larger than your printout if you want to enlarge your image.  In other words, if your grid image has 4 blocks across and 5 blocks down, then your art page should also have 4 across and 5 down.  If the printout grid lines are 2 x 2 cm, you can create your art page grid lines 4 x 4 cm (or larger) so that your new image is larger and fills your art page.

Now you are ready to sketch the image on your grid printout or on your computer screen.

  • Work block by block, copying the lines, angles and shapes in that block.
  • Use where the shapes intersect the grid lines as your measure.
  • Work with the large shapes first and then add the details.
  • Once you have your outline, gently erase the grid lines and you are ready to paint!

But there is an easier way! Art Tutor has an excellent Grid Tool that does this all for you ~   Simply follow the step-by-step tutor and download and save your grid image to your computer.

So now you can recreate any image or picture on your page using the grid lines as guides to make your own art!  Enjoy!

Blessings, Nadene

Leonardo Baby Sketches

English: Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vin...

My family were keen to do another Leonardo-inspired art activity after last week’s enjoyable Leonardo Pastel Portrait lesson ~

Leonardo da Vinci Baby Sketches

I tailor-made this lesson according to each one’s requests … printing out the specific size and copies of Leonardo’s baby sketches ~ here are your free copies ~ Leonardo da Vinci baby sketches

(Please note ~ approach this lesson with sensitivity – some children may find the idea that Leonardo da Vinci’s sketched and made notes of these baby sketches from cadavers rather disturbing.)

  • We looked at some examples of Leonardo’s baby sketchbook examples in our art book and online.
  • I used theses images and created black & white images using MS Word.
  • I enlarged specific sketches to print out for each artist.
  • We used a large A3-sized page for the collage, but normal printer-sized pages for the printouts.
  • We tore away the white edges around the large sketches and glued them collage-style with the rest of Leonardo’s special mirror-image handwritten notes as the background. Leonardo da Vinic baby sketches
  • Then we shaded over the entire page with yellows and oranges and browns and blended it in.  The torn edges ‘absorbed’ more pastel, making them darker.
  • Focusing just on one baby or the larger sketches we used our pastels to shade and highlight the baby’s contours.Leonardo da Vinic baby sketches1
  • Without working it too much, we were finished fairly quickly.
  • A spray of fixative and we were done!
  • A easy lesson with satisfying results!

Leonardo da Vinic baby sketches2

Here are some comments my kids made as we were clearing the table ~

I like these sketches.  They don’t have to be finished, so there is no pressure to do the entire page.”

“I love the pastels.  They work to cover a large area quickly and they can mix and blend to make smooth shading.”

“I love to put more pastel over the mistakes.  It is completely hidden, so I am not afraid if it doesn’t look right.  I can keep trying until it works out.”

For me, my older children joining me is an answer to prayer.  For almost 2 years, they have declined to do most our art lessons.  Maybe I should have tried chalk pastels long ago?

And yet, this week my youngest declined … she didn’t really enjoy last week’s lesson and felt rather insecure.  No pressure.  I’m sure we’ll find something she will be happy to join us next week!


Sketch Tuesday Shoes


What a great topic for this week’s Sketch Tuesday!

Here’s what Miss.L10 sketched ~

shoes 001

I love her pen and pencil detail and the painted background.

My sketch is really my rough drafts of different angles of my sandal …

shoes 002

In the end I penned over the different angles and painted the background.  Maybe I should sketch again try one angle in close-up detail?

Which one would you chose?

If you haven’t done your sketch this week, go on, take out your favorite shoe and sketch it!

Enjoy your weekend!  See you at the slideshow!


Summer Sketch Tuesday Ideas

While you all bask in your glorious Northern Hemisphere summer warmth …

and we shiver in our cold Klein Karoo winter…

there will be no official Sketch Tuesdays until 3 July 2012.

Sketch Tuesday Summer Break

As Barb suggested, I scribbled some themes on my calendar for each week so that we can continue our weekly sketch sessions until the slide shows return.

Just simple ideas.

A different theme for each week.

You could find topics from old Sketch Tuesday slide shows.

Or you may want to give these topics a try?


Because we love sketching.

We love the restful, creative moments of sketching or painting.

We enjoy the simple challenge of thinking up our own ideas for the topic.

We love capturing details from a simple still life.

We enjoy the half hour or so of quiet creative art.

We like applying new techniques and copying an artist’s methods.

We enjoy experimenting with new or different art mediums.

Here are out sketches for this week’s topic:

Sketch Something That Jumps

I realize that we might not do art each week unless some topics are written on the calendar, so here’s what I penciled in on mine:

  • Sketch something that jumps
  • Sketch something metal
  • Sketch something with fur
  • Sketch something you wear
  • Sketch something you’d find in the garage
  • Sketch something delicate

Enjoy your summer break ~ with or without Sketch Tuesday!


Sketch Tuesday ~ Bends

“Sketch something that bends”

and this what we came up with ~

Have you discovered the joy of Sketch Tuesday?

Simple topics

Kids can do it!

Easy participation

Take time to sketch together

Calming, creative, no competition

Happy, confident artists


Draw Athletes for Sketch Tuesday

This week our Sketch Tuesday assignment was to draw an


Sketch Tuesday is an informal drawing activity.  We love to sketch and paint according to the weekly topic, without any lessons, advice, new techniques, instructions or suggestions.

Usually we discuss the topic and I ask them what springs to mind.  We chat about their ideas.  Sometimes we look for real life items to set up a still life, or we find some pictures or illustrations relating to the concepts.

Sometimes though, we try new art techniques or imitate other artists’ styles such as ~

This week we focused on drawing action figures for our athletes.

I used Mona Brookes’ Drawing with Children on page 182.  She describes the body as drawn in circles and tubes.

We looked at great examples of how to draw action figures.

We also used our wooden mannequin to show different poses.

We then drew our athletes ~

Have you joined Sketch Tuesday yet?  Keep it fun, keep it simple … or give a new style or technique a tweak!


Contour Drawings ~ Sketch Tuesday

We often use our Sketch Tuesday assignments as an opportunity to try new art styles, techniques and mediums.

This week’s topic was

“Sketch something from the kitchen drawer”

We sketched ours modifying a technique known as

contour drawing

Cover of

In her art book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” Betty Edwards defines a contour as an “edge as you perceive it”. 

Pure contour drawing is sometimes termed as “blind contour drawing entails close, intense observation as you draw the edges of a form without looking at the drawing while it is in progress”.

We modified our drawings by

  • still looking at the drawing (which was then not so difficult and strange)
  • keeping the pen (we did not use pencils) in constant contact with the paper throughout the drawing

Kitchen utensils lend themselves perfectly to contour drawings because they have interesting, different edges and shapes.

We selected 3 items from my drawer.  We had to join / and overlap them as we did not lift the pen off the page.

A pleasant, right-brain art activity!

How have you used Sketch Tuesday to develop your children’s art experiences?  Please share with us in the comments.


Starting a Still Life

Last week I wrote about our success with Mona Brooke’s warm up lessons using ideas in her book Drawing with Children

This week I want to share a great tip for drawing a still life ~


Most people struggle with “where to start”.

A blank page is frightening.

My tip is to first start by making a “frame and name“. Just draw a frame around the page freehand and write your name, date and title at the bottom.

There! No more blank page.

Now where to start?

We used Mona’s warm up on pg.86 – drawings with objects overlapping each other.  (In a still life some thing in front often overlaps some object behind it.)

Quick and fun!

Mona Brookes says that most objects have a central focus or basic function that leads you to a good starting place, e.g.:

  • most flowers have a center
  • most plants have a central stem
  • most still life containers have a hole
  • most living creatures have eyes
  • most buildings have a central door or archway.

This is a KEY!

Simply find a central starting point.

Work from the starting point and develop the object, then go on to the object next to or behind it.

On to Lesson 3 Drawing from a Still LifeThe Teapot and the Vase

We used her photo and step-by-step instructions. It was fairly simple and everyone managed very well.

To complete the still life, add shading, texture, colour and the background.

I often tell my kids to do the background first.  This way they don’t mess up details they spent ages working on coloring in between small spaces.

I apply a starting point to our Sketch Tuesday assignments:

My kids both sketched these lovely pictures from memory/ their imagination.  But you’ll notice that there are no objects overlapping.

In the picture above you can see that there is overlapping  – this was drawn from a still life!

Look at other Sketch Tuesday sketches drawn from a still life ~

Bike by Miss. L9

Starting point was: “Begin in the middle of your page with the center of a circle/ nut/ wheel”

“Start with a bottle top in the middle of your page.  Remember to look at how objects overlap”

“Begin with a large vegetable that touches the sides of your page.”

When you set up your still life, think about which central object you should focus on in your sketch.  It is not necessary to include everything in the sketch, nor do you have to focus on the object in the middle of the still life.  You can choose any object and place that as your starting point.  It is easier to begin with something in front and add objects behind it.

I hope these tips help.

Try it in your next Sketch Tuesday assignment or art lesson.

Have you any tips to share?  Please comment.


Sketch Tuesday ~ Dental Fun!

This past week’s Sketch Tuesday theme ~

Sketch something you would use to clean your teeth!

We all enjoyed drawing and painting.

(I only found time a few days after my kids had done theirs.)

Here are our sketches:

Once again, I urge you to join the weekly assignments!

Barb writes,

“This week’s assignment, due Monday, November 8th, 2010:
Sketch something made in China.

All sketchers are welcome and there is no need to sign up. Participate as much as possible and make sketching a weekly habit. Send in your sketches in jpg format and mail them to: by Monday, November 8th and I will include them in Tuesday’s slideshow. Complete instructions are found by clicking the Sketch Tuesday tab at the top of my blog.

Have fun sketching,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Bible Study ~ Priest’s Garments

For Bible Study we are using “Picture This!” from and the children have enjoyed drawing their overview pages of each book of the Bible we have done so far.

All the stories from Genesis on 1 page

Exodus summarized in pictures as we read

Because this is a visual reference or overview, we often stop to ~

* study a story, event or characters in more detail (even dramatize ~ do puppet shows – finger puppets are quick and fun!)

* do some hands-on activity eg.: build models, do lapbook or minibooks

* memory verse practice

* sing songs or hymns

* write in our notebook  pages

* place our timeline pictures (from Sonlight) on the timeline

* pray!

The Tabernacle

I made a Tabernacle cross minibook shaped like a cross; with the outer court and Holy Place and Most Holy Place’s articles.  There is place to write how Jesus fulfilled the Tabernacle’s purposes on the minibooks.

Cross-shaped minibook of the Tabernacle's articles

Writing about Jesus' representation on the outside of each flap

Cover representing the Outer Court enclosing the cross-shaped minibook

To go with this theme I made a Priest’s garment paper figure with all his priestly garments separately to dress him as described in Exodus.

High Priest's Clothes

I pray and trust the Holy Spirit to show us where to stop and listen to Him and obey what He is saying to us.  He alone can make all of this word Light, Life and Truth!