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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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. 

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






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