Show Me What You See

The act of drawing can be a useful way to gather information and build understanding. The close and careful looking sometimes needed to make a drawing, and the process of putting what you see down on paper, helps give time to absorb thoughts and consolidate learning.

The “Show Me What You See” technique can be used by pupils and teachers to help focus looking, and aid drawing. Teachers can use drawings made as a result of the exercise to see exactly what it is a pupil is noticing – the drawings are windows into the pupils’ understanding.

There are lots of ways of using the information you discover. Pupils might for example use the information to make more finished drawings: they will notice more details, the nuance of light and dark, the context… all of which empower you to make richer drawings. But pupils might also use the information gathered through drawings to build understanding in other areas, for example a medical student might make drawings of lecture notes to help the information make sense and become more memorable.

Show Me What You See Method 250 Words by Tobi Meuwissen

Whatever the intended outcome, here’s how you might run a “Show Me What You See” warm up.

Run the session as a whole class exercise. Make sure every pupil can see the image/object in question – either by showing the image on the whiteboard, or by giving each pupil access to an image.

With the class listening to your voice, guide their looking. Focus their attention on specific qualities which you would like them to see. These may be lines, shadows, light and dark, patterns, shapes etc – all dependant on what it is you are looking at.

Show Me What You See Method 250 Words by Tobi Meuwissen

As you speak, invite them to start drawing. Continue to guide their exploration as they draw:

“Show me where you see the shadow”

“Notice the horizontal lines – show them in your drawing”

“Can you see how the artist has used lots of small marks in the area here – can you show me what you can see?

You might also like to introduce some “rules” or structures within which pupils have freedom to work:

“Notice the way the artist captures the feeling of movement. Show me what you see using a handwriting pen and a sharpie pen.”

“Show me the main shapes you can see – you’ve got 30 seconds to get them down. 20 seconds, 10 seconds, times up!”

Emphasize to pupils that we are challenging our expectations about what these drawings will be. We are not looking for wonderful drawings, or “brilliant” drawings. We are looking for drawings which show us what you have seen. We are looking for drawings which show really careful, focussed looking.

Show Me What You See Method 250 Words by Tobi Meuwissen


This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 1100 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

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