About Guided Drawings: AME 025




To start off Season Two of Art Made Easy, I’m answering a member’s question about Guided Drawings.

Gloria asks:

“Sometimes when I am doing a directed drawing lesson, like the Matisse fish bowl, rabbits, pumpkins or really, whatever …. I’ll always get the question from my students Do I have to do it that way? or Can I just do anyway I want?

And, frankly I’m torn. I don’t want to squash their creativity, but I do want them to stretch themselves and try something new. My teacher friend, who is an artist, says I shouldn’t even attempt to do directed drawings but rather bring in objects or photos of what is to be drawn and let the students come up with their own ideas of what that should look like on paper. Is there a balance to be had? And what would you say to those little guys who just want to do what they want and go their own route? Thanks Patty!”

Isn’t that a great question? In this episode of Art Made Easy, I’m going there…discussing the pros and cons of guided drawings and answering whether or not they can be beneficial to kids or whether they restrict creativity.


– How all art philosophies are good, and there’s really no wrong way to teach art to kids

– What exactly a guided drawing is and when is the best time to use one

– What are the benefits of guided drawings, especially for younger children who tend draw on the small side

– Why your objectives or goals must be determined when considering which methods to use in your classroom

– How you sometimes will have to be the authority and not allow a child to draw something that doesn’t fit with your project or theme

– What guidelines exist for implementing drawing into your art program

– How everyone can draw (it’s really just a series of lines and shapes placed on the paper)!

– Why using a variety of techniques to teach children how to draw will build their confidence




I created a simple guide that offers direction on what drawing strategies work best for the different grade levels. I use these guidelines as a way to introduce art projects throughout the year.

To download the PDF, click the YELLOW box, add your name and email and you will automatically receive the download. Check your inbox!

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What do you think?

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  • mkbreshik@hotmail.com

    Trying to get the guide Drawing Strategy Guide and keep getting an error message..

  • Paper_Paint_Scissors

    Home Art Enthusiast to two littles here. Enjoyed this podcast! as I have seen guided practice bring wonderful insight and confidence building to people of all ages when it comes to art, dating back to the first time I saw a copy of book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. My husband and I also like to do adult-instruction guided lessons just to relive some of our former art class instruction and fill in gaps that we did not learn as young people.

    One thing that for us was not addressed in the podcast … And , I know classroom teachers struggle to engage with this ( they can only be so many things to so many people ! So, please know this is not a complaint of any sort! ), isn’t the child who “asks for permission to not use ” the guidance, but children who struggle with attention deficit issues … Keeping them dialed into the guidance so that they give it a genuine try before going boom-straight ahead and drawing from preconceived notions about how to express a form or color fill, and then throw up their hands with the result that didn’t quite match what they aspired to.

    It is a rare person in my experience who doesn’t improve greatly with listening to a complete lesson of art guidance from a more seasoned artist , or musician ( hence why online art lesson, like music lessons have become so huge! ), but there are certain groups of people who need to be nudged to listen, take a break, and then re-listen …. Often in super-small segments, and maybe several times … In order to actually ” hear+unite+with visual perception” all of the great advice a guided lesson gives. In our child’s world, that is a huge obstacle and, in fact, it is one reason why traditional art instruction would be so cost prohibitive! What some children can absorb in the first 15 minutes of class and then begin to put into action with very minimal added commentary, an ADHD / ADD learner might practice in several spurts over a three week period, if not 3 months of dedicated effort before the eureka moment. The replay and review feature that kids can do , either with video recorded lessons or the step by step drawing guides that sites like yours provide make a huge leap forward possible when provided to the child who is encouraged to use those tools in quiet moments away from distraction. I am not sure how often art teacher in larger classrooms give ” preview homework” , but I definitely see guided lessons as fitting the flipped classroom model perfectly.

    Also, I think guided lessons are an essential technique for many learning styles to see that it is okay to take the ” magical talent” belief out of art-making and plug in the *reality* that a great deal of art talent comes from practicing the method of slowing down and learning small techniques that accumulate in an actual project. Without guided lessons, few people would ever learn how to look at an apple and see the magic of ” light” … Light that whites-out color or disappears in a myriad of shadow tones.

    Now, how much actual ” talking” goes into the ” guiding” part, that, I think , is where the magic fine-tuning of it all occurs. ? Some ears just don’t like hearing art explained in words. Thank goodness for those big white boards, smart boards and document cameras!

  • Jenna

    I really enjoyed this podcast. I’ve been wanting to do guided drawings with my older preschoolers to get the ready for kindergarten. Now that I might be teaching kindergarten, I’m even more excited to try this with them. Thanks for the nudge Patty! It really helps.

    • patty.palmer@deepspacesparkle.com

      Thanks Jenna…start really simple with these sweet things. Tracing templates really help develop fine motor skills. And whatever you can do to get children at this age to practice cutting with scissors…do it. Every art teacher in the world will love you!

  • Shirley

    I’ve never done guided drawing but I was curious about it so I listened to your podcast. I have to say I enjoyed listening to it because not only did you share your classroom experience but I learned some teaching strategies as well. Thank you!

  • millerd702@aol.com

    I loved the way you “framed” the topic. In my experience teaching special Ed students guided drawing has been very successful for all grades. my behavioral students often have high expectations and low frustration levels. They may be afraid to take a risk so through guided drawing there is a lot of scaffolding for success. And they always come out so different and expressive! I have had students too that want to do it their own way or their own thing, and I tell them to watch the lesson first and then they can decide. For me that gave me an opportunity to build a repore with the student. They also have to stay on the topic, and the also cannot crumple up their sheet of paper and get more paper b/c supplies are very limited and paper is expensive. Autistic children are very visual learners so guided drawing is great. For the students who want to do their own thing, we have reward art or I may plan that for a day at the end of the term, before vacation, etc. I agree that these drawings often don’t turn into a finished project. Good point.

  • Amanda Derry

    I work with adult beginner artists; who for the most part have learning disabilities, physical difficulties,emotional issues-or can be low in confidence about their artistic skills. So I take them right back to the beginning which is why Deep Space Sparkle has given me a lot of good ? ideas.
    A University art teacher came in to help me at one stage, and taught the students the way he would his 18+ year olds (probably a bit more basically). He taught them how to hold a pencil properly and make different kinds of line on paper (which worked well). Then he encouraged them to draw their portrait in a mirror, also including the background view. I thought this was a good idea, although students became a bit het up because their portraits didn’t look realistic (‘childish’ to their minds) and they struggled with detailed things like stained glass windows (as we’re situated in a Church). I noticed they became quite perfectionistic and finiky about what they were doing-which I try to avoid with them as the class is meant to be about being creative, not realistic. So although there were some interesting drawings which I did like; I thought I would change tack with doing guided (step by step) drawings instead. These worked very well and provided direction and confidence. I think plonking a subject down in front of students is like asking some of them to shoot arrows in the dark; which is self defeating, and again there’s too much emphasis on producing a realistic version which more confident and able students can do.
    On the subject of the podcast with children wanting to do their own thing- I have an adult learner who generally does and finds it more difficult to go with the flow- letting me know when she doesn’t like the subject matter! She can also be hard work in pair/group projects. It was tempting to think she didn’t belong in the class- but I thought I would listen to what she wanted to do (give her some berth) and also explained the ethos and learning aims of the class and where other students were coming from. So I think this helps, and she is a work in progress!(Like us all). Thanks Patty.

  • Jessica

    Thanks for sharing. But I just wanted to let you know I’ve been getting the error message quite a bit when I try to download the attachments.

    • Patty

      I can’t help you through the blog comments but if you contact support@deepspacesparkle.com They’ll be able to help you diagnose the download error. 🙂

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