Let’s Get Started


Because of the dangers of using chemicals to do a proper etching, this assignment will work more with subject matter, rather than with similar materials to that of the artist’s work.

Doing a drawing using a simple pencil can be exciting as it is a material that is so common, yet often forgotten about in art classes. This assignment makes use of pencil and paper, while keeping students imaginations alive.  Students often draw pictures as realistically as they can. In this assignment students are asked to alter that perception, and draw a house in an unexpected place. This allows them to work on their detail skills, as the ‘unexpected place’ will come from their imagination.


For this assignment there is not a lot of preparation. There needs to be at least two pieces of paper per student in case students want to do a second image, or need to start their image over. Paper towel also needs to be torn up so that each student can have a small piece for smudging the pencil.

A table area will be set up with the drawing pencils on it. The pencils should be separated according to their softness with these separations clearly noted. This way, students will be able to come and select the pencil of their choice and switch their pencil if they want to achieve different lines.


Note:  Have the example image of Dan Steeves etching Who Will Guard The Door When I Am Sleeping? on display for the class to refer to see an example of abstract art.

  1. The class will discuss the image and the teacher can ask what their initial reaction to the image is. If prompting is necessary the teacher can ask questions such as: Does the house look old or new? Would you want to live in this house? Who do you think would want to live here? Do you think the house is here on purpose, or accidentally? What kinds of feelings do you get from the etching? Why do they think the artist chose to put a house in this image?
  2. Following the short discussion, students will be told that they are going to create their own drawing.
  3. Students will be told that they need to create a drawing that incorporates drawing a house in an unexpected place. Express to them to be free to use their imaginations about this unexpected place. If they want to shrink the house down so as to fit it in a shoe, or enlarge it so that it sits on the moon, they can do so. Just allow them to have complete freedom as to where their image is set.
  4. Before students start, tell them that they are going to be using drawing pencils, and that although they are very similar, they are not exactly the same. The teacher will give an example of how they can be smudged on the paper using paper towel if the students don’t want to have really bold lines, or a plain white background. Explain that the softer the pencil, the more it will smudge.
  5. Students will be given a few moments to think about some locations that they think would work well, and they can discuss with their peers some ideas. Brainstorming ideas is a great part of the art process.
  6. Once students have had a few minutes to brainstorm, hand out their paper and tell them  to begin work on their image.
  7. At this point students will be free to work on their image. Remind students occasionally to pay attention to details and think “outside the box”. Encourage them to let their imaginations run wild.
  8. Once students have all finished their drawings they can leave them black and white, or they can colour them in using coloured pencils. Depending on the other art practices the students are familiar with, this can be an opportunity to work on introducing students to gray scale, where they add depth using only the pencil. Otherwise, the image can be coloured in using what is available in the class. Try to stay away from crayons, as sometimes they do not allow for as much detail as coloured pencils.
  9. After all images are complete, students will hang their images in the classroom and discuss the images with the class.

Tips and Tricks

Coffee cans or large yoghurt tubs make great pencil holders and can be easily labelled. Using the pencil, simply draw a few lines and then smudging them (if possible) on a paper label outside the can will help the students when they are selecting which pencil to use.