Say the words “Shaving Cream” to a group of kids and what do you get? TOTAL EXCITEMENT! My 6th graders were introduced to contour lines last week and I knew I wanted to introduce them to contour sketching in real life this week. My choice was to use shaving cream for several reasons: It is tactile, It Is forgiving, and It smells yummy!
The black plastic ‘sketch sheets’ are table cloth plastic I purchased from my local fabric store, for less than $2 a yard. The trick to success with this is not giving the students too much shaving cream. About two squirts is all it takes to make a ‘thin’ layer so that when students make their marks, the black lines show through. They spread the cream with a well loved gift card and then completed their contour sketches with a pointed wooden/plastic stick.
The main goal of this activity is to teach the students to draw what they see, not what they think they see, which is really challenging for anyone who has never attempted contour sketching. The shaving cream is forgiving, so students can re-spread the cream out, and begin again. When we move into mixed media painting on canvases, they will already have the experience of manipulating a medium with gift card plastic so it preps them ahead of time for that.
Adapting this lesson is a breeze. Younger students can use their fingers to sketch, practice mark making, and older students can create a much more detailed sketch. If you use Barbasol, the left over shaving cream can be molded into basic shapes and left overnight to dry out. As the moisture evaporates, it leaves a solid type of shape, which fascinates the students.
(Students can use this process to practice handwriting, spelling, math, you name it!)
Tomorrow we graduate to blind contour sketches…..can’t wait!