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Draw Your World
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Tuesday
Sep062011

Drawing Circles in the Sun

The following refers to the Grape Lesson in Draw Write Now, Book 2.

When my mother prepared her drawings to show the publisher for the first time, there was one drawing in the stack that caught my eye—a cluster of grapes, simply drawn with rows of circles positioned like racked billiard balls. Grapes by Marie Hablitzel, Draw Write Now, Book 2 I hadn’t seen the lesson in years. My reaction was, “Mom, you made this drawing? I remember drawing this, but not with you.” Holding her drawing in my hand, my thoughts went to a quiet moment on a sizzling hot summer day when I was six or seven years-old:

After cooling off in the wading pool, I used my wet fingers to draw circles on the cement patio. The challenge was to draw four circles, all the same size, lined up in a row. I could make two the same size, but the third was too high or the fourth too narrow. No problem, the circles vanished in the summer heat. I tried again and kept trying, over and over, until I could draw the four perfect circles. With all the practice, I got quicker and had enough time to make a second row of circles—this had to be done before the first row evaporated. It became a race. Draw the line of four circles, then three, then two and one. Hurrah! Oh, the satisfaction when I was able to beat the sun!

It’s memories like this that fuel my passion for Marie’s lessons. The beauty of teaching a lesson is knowing that there are subtle things that will stay with the child, long after the drawing is finished. 

See Marie’s collection of lessons, Draw Write Now.

Tuesday
Aug302011

Marie's Story

Draw Each Morning

Marie Hablitzel started her teaching career in 1942. She saw how her students (and she!) responded to regular drawing instruction. Eventually, she created a lesson for each school day.

2nd Grade Teacher

She taught primary grades at Gerber Elementary in California for most of her career. Budgets were tight, so Marie used whatever paper was available.

Mother

She and my father raised six children. Their daughter, Julie, teaches at the school where Marie taught. 

Volunteer

After retirement in 1982, She volunteered at Community Christian School in Red Bluff, California and gave a lesson each week over the next twelve years.

Inspiration for the Draw-Write-Now Books

We lived a long distance from Marie, so in 1991 she mailed drawings and notes to my five year-old daughter. One day, after straightening the letters and realizing the stack of papers looked like a book, I called and said, “Mom, I have an idea!”

Getting Published

A family friend, Carolyn Hurst, worked in publishing. In 1994, her company, Barker Creek, released the first Draw Write Now book. Marie and I promoted the books at conferences and conventions. This one was so fun—the Dairyville Orchard Festival—an annual festival in Marie’s community. Maryanne, Marie’s granddaughter and my niece, helped us.

Marie’s Work Continues

Marie enjoyed three-mile walks up until a few weeks before her death in 2007 at the age of 86. I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with her and am honored to continue her work.
~ Kim Stitzer

Monday
Aug292011

Starting with a Sketch

I recently came across the original design sketches for the cover of Draw Write Now, Book 1. You might notice that only Marie’s name is shown on the sketches. Here’s how my name got on the cover.

Draw Write Now, Book 1, sketch 1This sketch was selected for Draw Write Now, Book 1. All of the sketches were designed by Judy Richardson.

 



In 1992, Barker Creek Publishing, was a start-up business and Draw-Write-Now was to be it’s first product. Carolyn Hurst, the owner of Barker Creek and editor of the books, invited Marie to attend meetings with the designer and production people, and since I was Marie’s daughter and Carolyn’s friend, I got to go along. The cover was designed early in the process and four sketches were presented—the farm-scene design was selected.

Marie already had a long list of drawings to complete, so Judy Richardson, the book designer, was given the assignment to draw the cover. Working from her sketch, Judy made several attempts, but Carolyn wasn’t happy with the results—Judy’s drawing style was not like Marie’s. They were close to scrapping the design and asking Marie to draw the second-choice design, when I meekly said, “I think I can draw it.” They both looked at me, looked at each other, and said, “Okay, do it!” Well, I did it, and my art was used on the cover.

Draw Write Now, Book 1, sketch 2This was the second-choice cover idea.

I kept going to meetings and helping Marie in any way I could. At some point before Book 1 went to press, Carolyn asked Marie to make me her coauthor. Initially, I was hesitant—after all, the lessons came from Marie’s creativity, experience and hard work—but, Carolyn used good business sense. I was able to help with the promotion and production of the book series, plus I knew and understood Marie’s teaching and artistic style like no one else.

Throughout the series, Marie designed and created all of the lesson drawings, while I did the cover drawings, helped with illustrations and worked on text. Judy continued to oversee the designs elements. Carolyn edited the books and, along with several amazing production artists who embraced the 1990’s technology, pulled the books together on the computer. In the end, I think we all realized that the collaboration was perfect!

Draw Write Now, Book 1, sketch 3Judy presented these two designs, also. This one says… “If you don’t want to put a lot of work into it, you could do this.” Hee hee!

 

Wednesday
Aug102011

My child is 10...

“My child is 10 and she hates writing.
What can I do to help?”

Focus on drawing and add a little writing on the side! Keep in mind that an older child’s handwriting habits are pretty well ingrained, making changes can take longer. Be patient, have fun and plan to practice regularly and carefully.

Handwriting PracticeSomewhere along the line, your child may have missed some basic skills. Start by gaining an understanding of the progression of language arts skills. Keep this in mind as you draw and write with her. Start with the sample lessons of the swan (Book 1), whale (Book 4) and tiger (Book 7). Keep the practice time short, easing into more writing as her skills improve. Find more lessons in the Draw Write Now books. An older child is able to do any of the lessons in the series, so look at the Table of Contents and select a book that she finds most interesting.

Pencil GraspLook at how she holds her pencil. The older the child, the stronger the habits, so don’t expect her grasp to be corrected within a week. Exercises to improve fine motor skills can help, see OT Mom Learning Activities

PostureShe may need help with her posture. Exercises to improve gross motor skills will help, see OT Mom Learning Activities.

If your child bristles at the idea of writing practice, drawing may be the thing that motivates her to put a pencil to paper. The skills of handwriting and drawing are similar, so there will be some improvement even if she doesn’t write a word! 

Thursday
Jul282011

Curious Drawings

We began working on Draw Write Now in 1992 when my children were four and six years-old. They were immersed in their grandmother’s drawing lessons, and I have to admit that I wondered if all the exposure to the lessons would limit their budding creativity. I got my answer with these two drawings:
Draw Write Now, Drawing Lessons, CuriousTyler, age 6, “Curious wants to be held by Mom.”I had the flu, and Tyler and I were the only ones home. Sick and not able to watch over him as usual, I heard him go outside and told myself he would return shortly. Just as I was getting worried, I heard him come inside and quietly amuse himself in the front room. A while later he came to my bedroom with this drawing and note. We had chickens, and his favorite rooster’s name was Curious. He had gone out to the pen to get a look at Curious so he could draw the picture.

Draw Write Now, Drawing Lessons, CuriousMichelle, age 8, “Curious”

Draw Write Now, Drawing Lessons, CuriousTyler holding Curious.Michelle loved Curious, too, and made this drawing by looking at the photo of Ty and Curious.

After making many, many Draw Write Now drawings of dogs, cows, boys, girls, horses and yes, chickens, they had the skills to look at a subject and draw what they saw. I’d say that’s an important skill for a creative child to possess!

Thursday
Jul142011

Look at Handwriting: Writing Size

Beautiful handwriting by Melissa, age 7:

Handwriting Practice Papers
CLICK TO ENLARGE. Draw Write Now, Book 8: Horse Lesson, p.32

Melissa obviously has good guidance. To continue developing her skill, I recommend two simple changes:

Change the Guideline Paper
Melissa’s paper has 5/8 inch guidelines. I’d like to see her use the next size down—paper with 1/2 inch guidelines. At the bottom of the paper, she wrote her name and age using consistent letter sizes—she knows how to use guidelines—but, many of the letters in her first four sentences drop below the mid-line or float above the base-line. I think that handwriting practice has become a bit tedious for Melissa. She has developed good control and is able to write smaller. A practice paper with smaller guidelines would match her current skills, and her practice-time would once again be … (dare I say?) … fun!

Change the Letter d
I’d like to see Melissa change the way she makes the letter d. She is starting the letter from the top line. I would advise her to make it like her letter a. Read more on letter formation…

Letter dStarting at the mid-line, make the letter c shape, swing up to the top line, then down to the base line. (Like the letter a, with a taller straight line.)

Regularly look over handwriting practice sheets. Handwriting practice is about memorization and developing habits—we want letter formation to become rote and words to flow on the paper. Catch the errors before they become habits! Keep practice time fun!

Wednesday
Jul132011

Posture While Drawing or Writing

Handwriting instruction:
  1. demonstrates how letters are formed
  2. promotes a good pencil grasp and good posture
  3. encourages regular practice 
Posture
while Drawing or Writing

Generally, we think of sitting at a desk or table while drawing or writing, but we can also stand at an easel or blackboard, and there are those relaxing times when, with pencil and paper in hand, we lounge or cuddle.Standing While Drawing & WritingWriting or drawing while standing at a vertical surface—an easel, white board, or any vertical surface in a house (wall, fridge, glass door)—has these benefits:
  • the hand and forearm fall naturally in the correct position
  • arm movement is free—The heel of the hand is not “planted” in one position. When the hand is “planted”, movement is restricted to only the fingers.
  • downward strokes come naturally, which is similar to the top to bottom direction used when writing letters
Take the toddler out of the highchair so they can stand while they color and scribble. Let the four year-old draw a dog on the garage wall. Give the 7 year-old an easel. Challenge the 12 year-old to draw while standing.  Sitting While Drawing & WritingMost of our drawing and writing is done while sitting at a table. The arm rests on the surface of the table, stabilizing the hand and arm movement.
When sitting:
  • feet are flat on the floor (or a step stool or a stack of books)
  • knees are at the same level as the hips
  • arms, bent at the elbow, rest on the table top
  • shoulders are relaxed, not scrunched up toward the ears
Maintain the hand/wrist/arm position that is presented while standing. Watch for “planting” of the hand—the hand and forearm should rest on the table top and provide stabilization for the arm, but not constrict movement. The non-writing hand stabilizes the paper. Relaxing While Drawing & Writing Just as we like to see a child relaxing with a book, we love to see a child lounging with a pencil and paper. A relaxed posture while writing/drawing has it’s place and time, simply remember to include plenty of practice time in the standing and/or sitting positions. 

“Sit up straight.” — Marie Hablitzel

Climb a Tree to Improve HandwritingPlay Packs for Gross Motor SkillsPlaytime activities—swinging from bars on a jungle gym, climbing a rock wall or walking like a crab—develop the skills needed for good posture. See Play Packs: indoor play activities for strengthening gross motor skills.

The Desk and ChairLook for the following:
CHAIR: Use a child-size chair, or use an adult chair with books or a stool to support the feet. See a chair that adjusts as the child grows, and can be used at a standard-height table.
TABLE: Use a child-size table. See the adjustable table we’ve used for many years—we love it!
Balance and Posturebalance cushion is a simple therapy tool that engages the muscles used to “sit up straight”. An EaselAn easel has a slanted surface, which is more comfortable to work at than a straight up-and-down surface. 
  • Make a simple easel—lean a board against a wall. This could be an old bulletin board or whiteboard. Of course, stabilize the board at the top where it touches the wall and block the bottom.
  • Buy an easel designed for children, or build an easel.
Tummy-TimeInfants as well as 12 year-olds benefit from “tummy-time”. Therapist recommend that children lay on their stomach while propping their upper body with their arms. This position may be awkward for writing, but is fine while watching TV, reading or playing with small toys.
Wednesday
Jul132011

Swan Lesson, Draw-Write-Now

Draw Your World Swan Drawing Lesson for Children


Write about your drawing.

Color your drawing.

Color the drawing with crayon.

Get more practice!
The more you practice, the better your writing and drawing will look. Find plenty of practice material in the eight-book Draw Write Now series. Each lesson is presented on two pages; one page has a drawing andDraw Write Now Books for ChildrenSwan lesson—Draw Write Now, Book 1 four short sentences, and the other has the step-by-step instructions.

Drawing develops an understanding of scale and proportion.

A child may use the Draw Write Now books independently, or the lessons can be augmented following this basic format:
  1. Introduce the subject
  2. Draw the subject
  3. Create the background
  4. Write about the drawing
  5. Color the drawing

Drawing What You SeeWhen we draw something, like a swan, the first thing we do is look at the object to be drawn. Sometimes we can do this using our memory—we’ve seen a swan and we remember how it looks. Other times, we go to the park and actually look at a swan.

The ProblemWhen relying on memory, we can forget the length of the swan’s neck. (Too short? It could look like a duck! Too long… that could look odd!) Or, when we see the swan, it moves around too much for us to study it’s shapes and lines. In our lessons, we look at a simplified drawing of a swan, and use reference points and comparisons to get the swan to look like the thing we see. Also, we learn to plan ahead so there will be room on the drawing paper for the tail feathers.

The SolutionDrawing helps us notice and appreciate the scale and proportions of objects. The following tips will serve as an example. Remember to look at the color drawing and use the step-by-step drawing as a reference.

Tip 1—Pay close attention to where you place the first line (Step 1). It is the swan’s head, neck and a bit of the upper back. Draw this line closer to the left side of the paper, about half-way up on the paper.

Tip 2—Compare the size of the body to the size of the head (Step 2). The body is much larger than the head. If you divide the paper’s width into thirds, the body oval is about the size of the center third. How close is the bottom of the oval to the bottom of the paper?

Tip 3—We tend to assume that the eyes are located at the front of the head, but look carefully. The eye (Step 3) is drawn at the center of the head oval.

Tip 4—How long are the tail feathers? Compared to the neck, they come up to about half the length of the neck.

Tip 5—The front of the wing comes up to the height of the base of the head.

Compare lines or shapes while drawing. Use the edges of the paper as a reference point. With an understanding of scale and proportion, we can draw just about anything!