Drawn to Drawing at the de Young Summer Art Camp

Week two of the de Young’s Summer Art Camp featured the theme Drawn to Drawing . Guest blogger Kelsey Linton draws us into the exciting world of lines, shapes, and shading as we catch up with the campers hard at work.


“A drawing is simply taking a line for a walk.”—Paul Klee

This week campers learned that there are many different and fun approaches to drawing. Talented and eager to learn, these young artists explored myriad new materials and participated in unique and engaging projects specifically designed to hone their skills as draftsmen.

Snake wall

The Apprentices, the youngest group of artists, began the week studying abstracted shapes. During their first project they created original “shape recipes,” which became pop-up books that incorporated their own designs and shapes.

The following day, the Apprentices visited the Ruth Asawa installation, where they sketched the hanging sculptures and their shadows, creating realistic illustrations based on their own observations.


One of the highlights of the week was drawing self-portraits based on pictures taken of each artist. During this activity, the class discussed symmetry, color, and proportions. Apprentices drew themselves using chalk pastels, which are easy to blend and smear. The campers loved using their hands to smear the chalk across the paper.


Another exciting project involved using oil pastels to draw still life images of fruit. As a delicious treat, the artists got to eat the fruit after drawing it!

Fruit wall

The Artisans, the second oldest group of artists, studied marks, lines, and patterns. To kick off the week, they experimented with mark making, different materials, value scales, and shading. Like the Apprentices, the Artisans also visited the Asawa installation to study light and shadow in sculpture.

The Artisans were particularly proud of their own self-portraits, which they created using oil pastels and pencils with watercolor resist. The Artisans discussed what self-portraits tell us about an artist. Each portrait was drawn inside a folded piece of paper, while the outside revealed clues suggesting whose face would appear inside.

Self portrait

To study pattern and texture, this group visited an artwork in the Teotihuacan Murals gallery entitled Feathered Serpent, which inspired them to create their own serpents using markers.


The Artisans then ventured up to the 9th floor of the de Young Tower to view the San Francisco skyline. After discussing symmetry, perspective, and scale, the artists used Caran d’Ache to create their own cityscapes of San Francisco.

The oldest campers, the Masters, focused on conceptual drawing ideas, such as light and dark, shadows, texture, and color. Throughout the week they visited galleries and experimented with unique materials. On the very first day, Masters made their own paper using newspaper and water. Another project involved embossing metal paper to create original designs inspired by African pottery. The artists also constructed 3D paper sculptures; they then sketched their constructions, focusing on shadow, depth, and line.

One of the group’s favorite projects was creating sun prints. First, the Masters traced animal skeletons onto tracing paper, then onto acetone, eventually creating a negative, which was finally placed on sun sensitive print paper and exposed outside.

Animal skeletons

After visiting the landscape gallery, the Masters took advantage of the nice weather and went outside to paint. One Master said, “My favorite thing was going to the garden and painting landscapes.”


When asked what her favorite part about the week was, another Master exclaimed, “Everything!”

The teachers and interns enjoyed watching the campers grow as artists. As I walked through the classrooms on Friday, drawings, paintings, and murals hid the walls; sculptures, newspapers, and paper took over the floor; splattered paint and remnants of charcoal, pastels, and markers covered the tables. The rooms looked colorful and well worn!