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.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Landscape tutorial:

Here is a photograph, taken by me, of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Many artists have stood at this exact spot and painted this landscape.
As a matter of fact, the spot is so popular that it is known as Artist’s Point.

Here is a line drawing of the same photograph.

Sometimes it is easier for students to deconstruct a complex landscape and look at just one aspect of the picture. So I have taken the liberty of removing all the color and shadows and texture and leaving just the lines.

Is it still difficult to draw? Here, this may help you.

When artists are first learning how to draw, they often find it helpful to break landscapes down into layers.

The extreme foreground is the part of the picture that is nearest to the viewer. In this case, the viewer was me, the photographer. The part of the photograph that was nearest to me was the stone wall. It was so close I could have touched it.

Here is the brick wall by itself.

You can look at any landscape and deconstruct it by identifying the extreme foreground, the foreground, the middle ground, the background and the horizon (where the earth meets the sky).
Let’s look at a few pictures of landscapes that have objects in the extreme foreground:
In each photograph you should be able to immediately identify the extreme foreground.
When drawing your own landscapes try making the objects in the extreme foreground go right off the bottom of your paper.

Here are some famous paintings of Artist’s Point:
Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point

Thomas Moran's first paintings of the Yellowstone Canyon were instrumental in getting Congress to establish
Yellowstone as America's first national park in 1872. Thirty years after his first trip to Yellowstone he completed his
now famous painting, "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone."

You can learn more about Thomas Moran by visiting  http://www.thomas-moran.org/

Lower Yellowstone Falls by Albert Bierstadt

You can learn more about Albert Bierstadt by visiting www.albertbierstadt.org

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