Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Six Ways to make your artwork look three dimensional





The six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional

1) Overlapping (Objects in front partially hiding objects in back).




 2) Shading (Shading gives an object a sense of three dimensional volume)



3) Placement in relation to the horizon line (Objects below your eye level look farther away if the bottom edge of the object sits higher on the page)




4) Size (If two objects are the same size, the one farther away will appear smaller)





5) Value and focus (atmospheric perspective) Draw far away objects more lightly, use more faded color and use less detail


To learn more about atmospheric perspective, please click here and here.

6) Linear Perspective (Lines appear to converge as they go off into the distance, meeting at a vanishing point on the horizon line)





To learn more about one point linear perspective, please click here, here, here and here.
To learn more about two point perspective, please click here.

Below is a time lapse video of me, drawing a landscape using two point perspective. How many of the 'six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional' can you identify in this video?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Draw a Geometric Still Life by Playing With Blocks

Geometric still life

 Watch my video on drawing cubes and rectangular solids:


Practice drawing cubes using the video and step by step worksheet.

Start out by arranging the blocks so that they overlap each other on the table. Draw the top and sides of the blocks with the forms in front lower on the page than the forms in the back. To make things easier we will all assume that the light source is off the edge of the page at the upper left. So let's make the right side of each form darker. Then add a cast shadow on the table.  Watch the video below before you start. Your 3D drawings will get better with practice.










Now it's time to play with blocks. Each table will get a small set of wooden blocks, two plastic bugs and two toy cars. You are going to have to both draw and write a story about whatever you build with the blocks so be as creative and imaginative as possible.

Protagonist, place and problem
Your story must be original (but is okay to be inspired by a movie, video game or book).
Your story must have a protagonist (main character) based on YOU. You need to add details that get your readers to identify with and like your hero. Are they brave? Are they resourceful? Are they smart? Are they loyal? Show them having traits that you value in yourself and in your friends.
Your story must have a place (setting) based on whatever you and your classmates at your table can build with the blocks. This could be a castle, mansion, city or any other place you can invent using blocks.
Your main character must have a problem. The problem must be potentially disastrous or life threatening. That problem can include giant bugs but it doesn’t have to.  Your character can even BE one of the giant bugs. A giant bug could be your pet or help you escape or fight a battle. Look beyond the obvious.
At some point in the story the problem must seem insurmountable. Draw your readers in and get them worried.
Your story must end in a cliff hanger, with the reader forever wondering if the hero managed to get the happy ending they deserve.

Check out this short clip from the Disney film, Honey I Shurnk the Kids:

The characters are obviously all brave (they took on a giant scorpion) and they are obviously loyal (they didn't abandon each other or their friend the ant). The movie doesn't tell you that the kids are brave and loyal. It shows you and makes you feel it by portraying their actions. 

Did you notice the giant Lego piece in this scene? Imagine you are very small and the blocks, cars and bugs you are playing with are very large. Imagine details on the buildings. Be inventive. 

Ready to add details? Here is a helpful tip: 
When drawing anything in one point perspective, first envision the 'box it came in', then draw the object as if it were inside that one point perspective box.


Need to draw a cylindrical form? The video below illustrates how to first draw a box and then convert it to a cylinder. Select one face of your box and draw a dot in the middle of each side. Next, connect the dots with an elliptical shape. Round forms look elliptical when they are angled away from you in space. If you are drawing a round tower, keep in mind that objects above the horizon appear to curve up, since they are above your eye level. Round objects below your eye level, and thus below the horizon, appear to curve down, as depicted in the video below.


No paintings remind me more of a child's imaginary block cities than those of Giorgio de Chirico. He used one point perspective to create surreal imaginary worlds, filled with simplified buildings that look as if they might have been built from wooden blocks.

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street



Italian Piazza

Italian Plaza With a Red Tower

Melancholy of a Beautiful Day


Piazza d’Italia

Plaza Italia (Great Game)

The Disquieting Muses

The Enigma of the Arrival and the Afternoon

The Great Tower

The House in the House

The Nostalgia of the Infinite

The Great Metaphysician






Friday, February 10, 2017

Drawing a Dr. Seuss Inspired City Scape

Solla Sollew by a 7th grade student


Thursday March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday, also known as 'Read Across America' Day. Many schools across the country hold celebrations every year and plan special projects incorporating literacy and the arts. To learn more about ways your school can celebrate this special day, please click here.

My students will spend the weeks leading up to Read Across America Day creating their own unique Dr. Seuss inspired cityscapes. This lesson also introduces concepts like color theory, overlapping, foreground, middle-ground and background, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective. Best of all, it encourages literacy, story telling, creative problem solving and fun! Here is how you can create your own whimsical, playful imaginary world, just like Dr. Seuss:

This art lesson is inspired by the Dr. Seuss story I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew  and by an art lesson by Phyllis Levine Brown from the blog 'There's a Dragon in My Art Room' on warm and cool city-scapes. You can find her original art lesson here.  I was able to draw inspiration from her ideas and modify them for my older students.

Below is a wonderfully narrated read along version of the Dr. Seuss story that inspired this art project:



Nobody knows what Solla Sollew actually looks like, since the hero of the story never actually manages to get there. All we know of it is what he imagined. It could look like anything we can envision. Here is the imaginary city that I drew after reading the book myself:



My classes started out by creating the sky and learning how to mix colors. On the first day we learned how to create concentric circles and then create tints by gradually adding white to each color. 





On the second day we mixed two primary colors using the same method. One primary color was painted in the outermost circle. The other was painted in the center circle. And then the colors were gradually mixed to create a gradient.




Instructions for creating the cityscape:

Cut out your concentric circle color studies and glue them onto a piece of construction paper to create the background.



Overlap the circles and glue them so that they go slightly off the top and sides of the construction paper to create the sky.


Flip the paper over and trim the excess from the back, without cutting into the construction paper.


Use another piece of construction paper to create the horizon line. The horizon should be higher than the bottom of the circles. Draw it with a piece of chalk before cutting it out.



Overlap the horizon line so that it cuts off the bottom of the circles, lining the bottom edge of the construction papers up exactly. Glue it down to form the sky, horizon line and land.

Here is an easy method for drawing wacky Dr. Seuss style
 3-D buildings. Start out by drawing a curved arrow and then turn each arrow into a skyscraper by adding the sides. Group the buildings together and use overlapping.



Please watch the video below for more detailed instructions on how to draw the 3-D cityscape and complete your collage:



My unfinished cityscape 
(student art gallery coming soon)



How to draw a Dr. Seuss style staircase


Student Art Gallery
6th and 7th Grade Cityscapes