How To Draw and Paint Dolphins in Compositions: A Dolphin Is An Ideal Subject When Planning Sea Themed Art Displays


Dolphins are a wonderful subject matter because they are such graceful creatures that they can be used as a motif in all kinds of artistic statements. Featured in artworks from bronze casting to simple cartoons, the character and playful nature of the sea creature has inspired artists through the ages. Dolphins are elegantly shaped and they are easy to draw.

How To Draw Dolphins

Ask students to search the site How Stuff until they locate the step by step instructions called “How To Draw A Dolphin. ” These instructions are for young artists. This basic drawing process will explain the elements of capturing the shape and character of the dolphin.

Stepping Through To Lyrical Composition

  1. Students master drawing the mammal, so that they can comfortably capture proportion, perspective and structure. Give them support and time to become comfortable with drawing by using a site such as How Stuff After experimentation, ask them to decide whether they wish to draw realistically, abstractly or in a cartooning style
  2. The teacher can begin working towards the exhibition or classroom display by teaching the students about composition. Talk to them about placing the creature in relation to the background and environment within which it swims. Help them to find ways to place dolphins within the pictorial space in relation to each other, or to trainers and other fish or animals in the picture plane
  3. Artists can create beautiful compositions using the motif of the dolphin because of the circular feel to the body. They swim rhythmically, and when they swim, jump and play they create movement through the water. This fluidity adds to the dynamics of composition. Splashing also adds lighthearted elements to the pictorial plane.

Research the Design

How uniquely original and resonant the range of student artwork will be, is sure to rest on how much focused research each artist does before settling to design the final composition.

Set a web search task so that students locate sites where they can find images from which to draw dolphins in various poses. Ask them to experiment with light and tone until they have developed the ability to capture various diffusions of light and how it plays on the dolphins as they swim about. Insist they take their time so that they sink into the flow of the experience.

The Harmless Lion Gallery

Here is a dolphin image by Tursi that allows you to see what the light would look as it dapples across the velvet skin of the dolphin while it is swimming under the sea. Ask the students to browse the entire Harmless Lion Gallery and study the Tursi Dolphins by cruising on from that image link. The students will be able to examine a variety of images that capture dolphins at play.

Imaginative Display

By now the students should have

  • mastered the drawing side of the project
  • become able to capture the contextual aspects of mood and atmosphere
  • captured movement through gestural drawing and design

Now is the time to ask them to become more imaginative. They may search out images of dolphins swimming in circles, or they may cut themselves a simple dolphin stencil and start playing with placing the dolphins in a variety of places, spaces and poses. Encourage creative freedom as they play with colour, line and media to create an abstract composition

Give them permission to experiment boldly, but set a time limit on the final stages of experimentation. Make sure the students know when their work is to be submitted ready for display.

Once these sea themed compositions have been carded up, framed or otherwise mounted, display them in your classroom, the library or foyer of the school. They will create an atmosphere of lighthearted good fun.

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