Sit Down and Speak Up

Amazing student example by Carson Bollman
The beginning of a sketch.
Teacher example using a “box” to get the proportions of the chair and placement of the legs.

I love the projects featured on The Blooming Palette. Several semesters I saw the Sit Down and Speak Up project and fell in love with it. I show my students the Rock the Vote 2014 video and ask them to pick an issue important to them. We brainstorm a list of words and practice drawing several different types of chairs.

Here are some beginning sketches of chairs and stools I demoed in class.

First step, select the correct orientation of your paper — horizontal or vertical. Next make a slight mark where you would like the top and bottom of the chair to be on your paper. This is to remind you not to run off the page while you are practicing.

Second, using your pencil like a windshield wiper to find the correct angles. Draw a box out of the chair legs.

Next draw the chair legs going up. Just go for it. Don’t be afraid of making a wrong mark. Make many lines so you have enough to choose from.

Fourth, measure for proportions. How long are the legs to the back of the chair.

Next add detail. Look for the shading and changes in value.

Think about your composition. Does your eye go in a circle around the picture plane. Do you have some large and small objects? Is everything the same size? Are your dark areas balanced?

A word of caution about text – Think about the FONT of your words. If you use ALL stencils you will give your work a military feel. Do you want that? Does it help your artwork? Think about having some text hanging off/running off your page. Think about using cursive and print.

A word of caution – do not paint your entire paper, words and chairs all one color it will kill the composition. The more successful compositions masks out the chairs and paint the background in different neutral color washes. This will give DEPTH to your composition.


Teacher made example using neutral color washes in the background,
Student Example


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