Slowing Down and Looking Closely

Slowing Down and Looking Closely

During the summer, many of us are balancing busy schedules at home and on the road. This project is a great way to slow down as a family and take some time to observe the world around us, whether in our homes, backyards, or out adventuring.


What you’ll need


Sharpened pencils


Waterproof black pens

Coloring tool of choice (we like watercolor pencils)

Something to observe (small things like flowers, pinecones, rocks, or shells are great places to start but you can choose anything you like)

Optional: magnifying glass, binoculars, or other tools to help you look closely


What to do

Step 1: Gather, arrange, or identify what you want to draw.

Step 2: Look. Very often both adults and children will draw an item how they think it should be drawn rather than slowing down and really looking at it. Before you pick up your pencil ask yourself some of these questions.

What shapes can I see in this? Do the shapes repeat? If so, how many times? How are the parts connected? Are there any details I can see? What else can I notice?

Step 3: Draw! Take your time and draw with pencil what you really see. Keep looking back your item to make sure you are still asking yourself those noticing questions. When you think you are done, look for any tiny details you might have missed.

Step 4: Use your waterproof pen to trace over the lines of your finished pencil drawing. If you are working with very young children it is a good idea to cover tables or other surfaces that you want to keep free of pen lines.

Step 5: Color! We love watercolor pencils for this project because you can blend colors and even come back to add water on a different day if you like. We try to stay away from chunky markers on this project because it is difficult to get the details of colors and patterns. Try this project with different types of coloring materials and see what works best for your family.

Step 6 (Optional): Write about and share your artwork with friends and family! This is a great way to encourage literacy through the summer and prevent some of the backwards slide that can happen when kids aren’t in the classroom.

Whether you take time to research the items you choose to draw, note where you were when you found them, or make up a fanciful story about them; creating together can be a fun and educational process for the whole family and a great way to create souvenirs of your time together.


Jess Graff is an artist and currently the Residency Manager at Portland Children’s Museum.