Great Illustrators Study – Shel Silverstein (plus some poetry, too)

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Maggy of Red Ted’s Art Blog is hosting a monthly series called Kids Exploring The Great Artists. I thought I’d participate but adapt to be The Great Picture Book Illustrators.

As I pondered what illustrator to choose first, my 10-year old told me about an in-class project on Shel Silverstein‘s black and white drawings. Her teacher, Jayme Mansfield, is an artist and a writer and thanks to her, we’ll start with an illustrator study of Shel Silverstein.

“Draw a crazy picture, 
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb. 
Do a loony-goony dance 
‘Cross the kitchen floor, 
Put something silly in the world 
That ain’t been there before.”
– Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein – The Illustrator

Shel Silverstein’s illustrations are black and white cartoons. If you look at the illustrations with new eyes, you’ll see how they capture the essence of each poem. Read more about Silverstein’s life on his website and see the complete list of books he created.

Draw Like Shel Silverstein

Materials Needed:

Pen or Pencil (I like Faber /Castell PITT Manga pens or Sharpie.)
Paper (Strathmore Visual Art Journal, Strathmore Drawing Paper)
Elements of Art printable (optional)

Illustration Ideas:

We often only of Silverstein as a poet but he was a skilled illustrator, too. In fact, he’s one of the best illustrators to start this bi-monthly series since his illustrations are simple and don’t require a lot of materials. Take a look through some of his poetry books and observe his style.

Shel Silverstein, from A Light in the Attic

Today Is Very Boring
Use the first two lines from Jack Prelutsky’s poem, “Today Is Very Boring” and continue in with his rhyme scheme and stanza breaks but use your own words to write a new poem. Illustrate in the style of Shel Silverstein.

The Missing Piece
Use the idea behind The Missing Piece and make your own missing piece story, illustrations and all.

Point of View
1. Write your own silly poem or use one of Silverstein’s.
2. Decide what object or point of view to choose for the drawing.

Cutting Kate
This printable poem is ready-made for illustrations and more than one child. Have fun!

Go to the last page of this Silverstein packet and trace the camel. What do you notice about the face? How did Silverstein make the camel expressive?
Try several versions of the camel’s face and focus changing on the eyes to create different expressions.

Eight Balloons – A Book to Draw and Play With
This printable Eight Balloons book gives kids the delight of creating their own illustrations to match the popping balloons.

More Activity Sheets, Games & Fun
FREE activity sheets, games & fun.

“Happy endings, magic solutions in children’s books create alienation in the child who reads them. The child asks ‘Why don’t I have this happiness thing you’re telling me about?’ and comes to think when his joy stops that he has failed, that it won’t come back.” – Shel Silverstein

Red Ted ArtPlease visit The Great Artists series on Red Ted Art and the other hosts of this amazing art series, The Imagination Tree, Mom 2 Posh Little Divas, and Creative With Kids.

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    1. I’m not so familiar of Shel but I started love her activity. Thanks for posting. I’m gonna try this with my kids.