An Alternative for the Frustrated Artist

One of my daughter’s Christmas gifts this year was the design studio from Hearthsong.

We also bought a light table to go along with the set.  (Side note:  There are tons of great activities on Pinterest, using a light table.  Click here to see a few.)

She’s having a great time creating outfits for her imaginary clients and loves practicing how to draw people. 

I’ m in love with the design studio and REALLY love the light table.  I can’t wait to explore some light table activities.  I’ve found great ideas for combining colors, working with shapes, and fun activities for math.

So, what does this have to do with literacy?

 I’ve been reading a lot about the importance of illustrations in the writing process, even with young children. Looking at picture books as an author or illustrator gives young writers inspiration and mentors.
 Quality illustrations in a book help the reader to make greater connections to the story, deepening their schema. We can’t expect our young writers to illustrate as magically as Jan Brett, but we can expect them to use her as a mentor.  We can look carefully at the unique elements different illustrators use in their books.  Does the illustrator use borders, show a sequence, or a before and after?  How can our illustrations fill up the page with color like Tomie dePaola?  How does Gail Gibbons show different steps in the “how to” section of her books?  We read and enjoy these books, but now it’s also good to call out and name the different elements of pictures through illustration study.

  Let me be clear… I can’t draw.  I’ve tried, and I’m pretty pathetic.  My kindergarten students say, “It’s ok. We can still tell it’s an animal.”  I don’t expect my students to be amazing artists and I understand the developmental stages in art. 

My daughter loves to write and illustrate her own stories, but she  is very much a perfectionist.  If she’s writing a story and the illustration doesn’t turn out the way she’d like, it’s over.  The pencil goes down on the table and she shuts down.  The light table and the ability to trace has become ONE tool for enabling my daughter to continue writing and illustrating with confidence.  My daughter doesn’t choose to trace pictures into her books all of the time, but when she’s feeling frustrated it’s a great tool.  I don’t encourage her to copy stories and trace illustrations from books she owns.  We use the light table and design studio as a tool. When she’s writing a story and struggles with drawing the people in the stories, for example, the design studio and light table come in handy.

It’s been a pretty fun activity to have around the house!
Happy writing and illustrating!

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