I would like to recommend an assignment that always worked out well for me and my students.
I even used it to "win over" those students who would fight me tooth and nail about talking excessively in art.
A lot of the students were successful immediately as it is dealing with shapes.I call the lesson, Models Under Spotlights.
Place your model under a spotlight in a semi dark room.
Encourage your students as they begin to draw to squint their eyes to see the shapes of the shadows and highlights and even the interlocking shapes.
They have two ways to approach this assignment.
One is to draw lightly in pencil to capture the contour of each of those shapes or just go straight into it with the media ( my favorite).
My students were successful in several media choices including; markers ( hatch marks, cross hatching and wrap around marks to add both value and form.),
working in dark paint on light paper to focus on SHADOWS only, then the next day work with light or white paint on dark paper focusing on HIGHLIGHTS only.
The whole emphasis is on shapes and supposedly shapes were the first thing we recognized as an infant as we recognized our mother's face coming toward us.
That may have been in Edward's book. Betty Edwards is a great reinforcement for teaching how to see the correct way in order to draw.
Frederick Franck wrote, The Zen of Drawing and Seeing as Meditation and it too is a good resource.
( My students ask to read it after we used some of the quotes in learning contour drawing.)
I would like to attach a sample of the work and don't think we can do that here.
So here are some links to my virtual art rooms with sample of student work.
In the Student Portfolios, Jason Chung has two model under spotlights ( his self portrait ) and another with highlights.
I have some Art 4 projects that show the shadows only, the highlights only and both shadows and highlight in self portraits.
Another example is a boy on a ten speed bike done in shadows only in ink and markers in a 30 minute drawing session.
It is amazing how good these can be.
Look in the teacher's lounge in the Art 3 presentation, there are some samples of models under spotlights.
This will soon me a member only section, so look now before it is password protected. Hope it helps.
I just added a photo album of some models under spotlights on my Facebook The Art Life Fan Page for you. Check them out @
Caring About Your Successes,
Joan Maresh Hansen