Negative drawing: Magic Jellyfish

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This work made with the 7th Grade students is inspired by the illustrated book ” The Jellyfish Garden” (“Il Giardino delle Meduse”) by Paola Vitale and Rossana Bossù. In this wonderful book we have observed the numerous and detailed drawings of jellyfish, in particular the drawings made IN NEGATIVE, that is made with white pastels on a dark background.

Inspired by these images, each student has chosen different details from different species of jellyfish, copying and assembling details such as the upper umbrella, the marginal lobes, the tentacles or the oral arms, thus creating their own unique jellyfish.

The instructions for the activity are:

  1. copy details of different jellyfish and create your own original design
  2. work with light pastels, white is fine but also pink, cream, yellow, blue, light green…
  3. make parts with “negative” SHADES to create transparency
  4. make a single big jellyfish in the middle
  5. in the background make smaller drawings, always taking inspiration from the images in the book

To copy the details of the different jellyfish we used the iPad Tablet where I set up a shared presentation with the images, then the students chose to copy the details they preferred. As support we used purple, blue and black cardboards and we used colored pencils white and light colors with pastel tints.

In negative drawing we draw with light, so our stroke will be brighter if we use more pressure and darker if we lighten the stroke. Working on a colored base with white pencil, the value scale is the opposite of working on white sheets with black pencil. In this case you create bright shapes and transparencies suitable to your unique and special jellyfish.


Art with lines, inspired by Sol Lewitt

Rainbow Umbrellas: mixed media drawing with video tutorial


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