Jefferson Art Students Discover What They Want to Be When They Grow Up Through Art

Jefferson Middle School fifth-graders realized their dreams of becoming zookeepers, snowboard designers, singers or military chefs, if only through their artistic abilities.

The students participated in Lisa Corey’s “When I Grow Up I Want to Be” figure lesson, which addressed art, but also English Language Arts, social studies, math and research skills.

Students learned how to manipulate lines to create contour drawings of objects. They discovered how to change flat shapes into three-dimensional forms by shading to show volume. The “When I Grow Up” lesson tied it all together, adding the element of proportion.

“Art is all about being creative problem-solvers and learning to find ways to communicate ideas visually,” said Corey. “The students researched their profession so they could dress the figure in appropriate clothes and add visual ‘clues’ so the viewer would be able to guess the career without writing the word anywhere on the picture.”

Students could use any art materials including: pencil, colored pencil, Plasti pastels, markers, paint or collage. They drew their bodies based on the Ancient Greek system of body measurement that uses the head as the unit of measurement. This system of drawing allows students to keep their figures in proportion – whether their drawing is 15 inches on their paper or 20 feet tall on a mural.

To better understand proportion, students also posed for each other with dots marking the joints to help them notice the measurements and to make sure that the pose looked natural. They checked for details such as, “Do their elbows indeed fall at the waist measurement?” This helps students avoid the common mistakes that people make when drawing people.

As a homework assignment, students wrote a paragraph explaining what they want to do when they grow up and, more importantly, why. They also could explain how art would help them in that career.

“I want to be an artist or painter who works with animals,” said Summer Dracup, Jefferson Middle School fifth-grader. “I looked at magazines to see what artists use in their profession. I discovered most painters use an easel, so I include that in my picture. We needed to have a foreground, background and middle ground to make it look three-dimensional. I didn’t know about the Ancient Greeks using heads as a way of drawing a body. I just love art because you get to show your creative ability.”