So, my student especially middle-school love dragons. And I have to think back on my OWN childhood and experiences to remember what it is about these things! They pop-up in my class-room over and over in conversation AND art. What is it?
Could be a couple of things. They're primordial, symbols, or just old, old, old and fascinating. Think about it; who hasn't loved DINOSAURS. And aren't dinosaurs just dragons without the wings? Smile and nod please.
So, some of my students are SO into dragons even their bears look like dragons. Solution? Don't shame them into getting off the dragon-kick. No, what you need to do in order to quell this thirst is show them the full myriad of dragons. No one is more lost, attracted or found in a myriad. What better way to do this than stretch out the very basics of what a dragon looks like. You don't need to go far enough to include crocodiles and lizards. Most won't be able to take that leap. Stick with dragons, but offer up stretches. By that, I mean dragons that are still dragons but frog and pineapple and hummingbird.
What better than Graeme Base? Illustrator, book-writer. Amazing. Show the dragon-possessed this book and they will be off onto things like pineapple and birds. No, they may not stay there, your dragon-lover may always, always love dragons so much it comes out in their work for the rest of their life, but THAT IS OKAY! What else makes style than consistencies! You'd never recognize an artist's work if they looked different enough every single time.
1.) Prep the kids with a little primer in the elements of art and design; line, form, color, value, pattern, etc. Provide this as a visual aid and ask them to include these. They might not get them now, but as they become more and more familiar with them, they'll be able to communicate and use what they're learning. Re-expose, re-expose, re-expose. Also, known as reinforcement. Re-expose is a less aggressive term, and allows for more free-will.
2.) Play with pattern because that is going to be the most tedious part. We drew pineapples and experiments with variations and stretches on a repeated square shape.
3.) All right, so now that we have some confidence, let's sketch a little dragon out of geometric shape. Use triangles, squares, and circles; all very welcoming and easy. Build from simplicity to complexity. Your kids whether elementary, middle-school, or high school will love you for it.
4.) Now we get to the dragon. Their attention and flow should be pretty focused and steady by now depending on how much time they have for you. Twenty? Forty minutes? An hour? Either way, pick back up where you left off. Please, please, please ask them how their week is going. If they're an an autistic spectrum, pay close attention to their state using kinesthetic signs. These students won't always verbalize or emote. That doesn't mean they're not feeling something.
5.) Use color on this fine dragon piece. Go big. Don't do it for them. They should have enough confidence after all that prep to get to the big dragon.
6.) Tell a story using four to five squares. Place these around the dragon. 4-D work tells a story. Tell a good one for those who still yet need the confidence and experience to do it themselves. Many will duplicate the story you told, so tell a good one. It can be funny, or silly. We brought a knight into the frame. The dragon ate the knight. You can tell by the red flag on his head sticking out of the dragon's mouth. Your students, like you, want to see their loved ones smile and laugh.
Oh, and one more thing, let the kids no matter how young or old tell their story in any direction they want. Just because we write from left to write doesn't mean a story can't be told from right to left, or in a circle! There's no reason to keep them in one direction, this is their story.