Drawing fruit from real life

Did you know that young children can draw things from life, not just from imagination? This is a big "Duh!" for me, but for some reason I didn't even think about it. I just assumed little kids drew faces and monsters and houses and suns, etc, as they thought they should look but without really looking at them. And of course they do that too, but I think they can also be very observant and translate what they see onto the paper.


This so-called lesson in drawing from life was completely spontaneous. Maia wanted to draw an orange, but said she didn't know how and asked me to draw one for her. Instead of doing that, or just telling her to draw an orange circle, I grabbed the fruit bowl, set an orange in front of her and talked with her about it. We talked about color, shape, and texture, and I encouraged her to draw what she saw as we talked about it. In the photo above, she's drawing an avocado, using dots to portray the bumpy skin, and circles for the stem end and also for the sticker.


Here's a lime.


A grapefruit.


And a bunch of bananas.

She loved doing this and kept asking for other things to talk about and draw. She also drew an onion and a head of garlic, then we went to the store in search of other fruit to draw, including grapes, kiwi, and apples.
Maybe we'll collate these drawings into special fruit- and vegetable-themed books… Or maybe I'll just remember that drawing from life can be fun and rewarding!

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  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 5:56 am

    How wonderful that your little girl got so into this exercise, and that it kept her concentration over so many drawings! I’m terribly impressed!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Wonderful to see. Thanks for the reminder. I think I’ll suggest something to my kids like this this weekend.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Of course! That’s how I learned in middle school, why not let them try it earlier?! Jean, you (and your daughter) are brilliant. I’m so glad you are back here on your blog.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Wow! I’m not sure I would have thought to stop and pull out an orange and have a discussion like that. What a great reminder to us to step back a moment and realize when we can make an “experience” out of a question like Maia’s.
    The drawings are lovely. :)

  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    what a wonderful idea! You rock!

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle
    January 22, 2009 at 12:19 pm


  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    thanks so much for this idea, I will defenetly do this with my daughter, but one question for you…
    Do your kids ever get fustrated because it doesn’t look perfect to them? mine does, she gets very temperamental when it doesn’t look like the real thing
    thanks so much

  • Reply
    January 22, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I enjoyed Lori’s posts on observational drawing on the Camp Creek Blog a while back.
    I love the idea of collating the drawings into a series. They would be pretty cute framed together as well and hung in your dining room or kitchen. :)

  • Reply
    Mom To A Preschooler
    January 22, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    What a wonderful idea! It really encourages creativity. My three year old daughter has only managed to draw monsters on her sketch pad. I guess I’ll follow your lead then. Compiling your child’s drawings is a wonderful idea. Wish you all the best!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    January 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Hmm. Clemencia, I’m not sure what to suggest. Maybe talk about how everyone’s drawings look different and how that’s a good thing. If ten people sat down and drew a car, all the cars would look different. Part of it is style and part of it is just that different people see things differently. One person might focus on how red the car is and someone else might focus on how big the tires are. And someone else might focus on the people in the car.
    Or maybe go to an art museum or get a contemporary art book and point out how different artists portray people and still lifes very differently etc. For example Picasso vs Renoir. There’s no right or wrong way. Many famous (and not so famous) artists paint things in ways that don’t look exactly (or anything) like what they are depicting and they do it on purpose.
    Or maybe talk about how capturing the “essence” of an orange or car or whatever is more important than just drawing exactly the way it looks.
    Hope this helps. Anyone else have any ideas?

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    January 23, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Thanks Amber. I just read Lori’s post. Definitely a good one!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    good to see you! i would poke around every few weeks to see if anything was new…i can really see your daughter’s work improving and it continues to challenge me to work with my little ones.

  • Reply
    ashley b. chandler
    January 24, 2009 at 4:37 am

    First, so glad to see you up and running again. Funny I had a feeling today when I decided to look over here that you might be posting once more. Glad to hear you are feeling better, too. Know that lots of us can relate to not feeling great and needng a break.
    Second, what a great and simple concept. I’ll be trying this with my just turned three- year-old soon. You’d think this would’ve occured to me before now since I have an art ed degree! Thanks as always for your inspiration!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2009 at 7:23 am

    awesome work im getting inspired every time!!!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2009 at 7:26 am

    maybe one day after having my own expereinces i might have my own blog n share my insight as well need luck keep me posted luv the beauty of this work its so rewarding so creative i dunno wht im saying i just love it

  • Reply
    January 24, 2009 at 6:50 am

    I tried the same thing yesterday!
    You’ve inspired me to create my own blog, I’ve linked to yours in a post, hope that’s ok.

  • Reply
    Mozi Esme's Mommy
    January 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Great drawings!
    We were working on a tiger mask today w/my 21-month-old, and I pulled out a plastic tiger to use as a model for the mask. She had her own ideas, though – she put the tiger on the plate and “traced” it instead. Maybe in a few months…

  • Reply
    Beyond Homemaking
    January 28, 2009 at 1:38 am

    […] excellent drawing activity we will be trying later in the week- Drawing Fruit From Real Life. Im not sure what Big Kid will think of it at first, but it will be great practice for […]

  • Reply
    Jasmine Rosie's Mum
    January 31, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Hi I have just come across your blog loved it. We are just starting out, though your work brings back many happy moments of creativity shared by my girls and I. Don’t miss them!

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