How I Use Draw All You Can Cards in My Classroom
“Mrs. Ballow?” the student whispered timidly, her voice barely audible against the bubbling conversation and bustling activity of the other students in my elementary art room. “Will you draw one of those pictures with me? You know, the one with all the crazy stuff in it?”
“I would love to,” I replied softly. “How about I go get my Special Sharpies?” As I spoke, I noticed her eyes begin to sparkle and a slight grin curl the corners of her mouth. “Should we go get a BIG piece of paper too?”
Thirty minutes flew by, and despite many interruptions, we completed most of the drawing. Our image was full of crazy stuff -- a cute cat, a smiling sun, a lollipop, a rainbow, and even “a shooting fish-bunny-star-thing.” As that typically shy student held up the paper for me to photograph, I could see how proud and happy she was with the finished drawing. “Would it be okay if I took it home?” she asked.
The pictures with “all the crazy stuff” were made using a drawing method called Draw All You Can. I had discovered it while researching collaborative art projects to help alleviate the isolation and frustration that I was observing in the students, teachers, and families in the virtual learning environment necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Draw All You Can uses a deck of cards with a series of drawing and creative thinking prompts to guide a person through the drawing process. The results are beautiful, complex, and meaningful drawings full of energy and whimsy.
Draw All You Can is very adaptable. This drawing process meets participants where they are, at any skill level, with almost any type of drawing material, and can be used solo or collaboratively. Since taking their online classes and becoming more familiar with the method, I have used the Draw All You Can cards to create collaborative drawings with my students and have led workshops for families and teachers, including one at our school’s monthly staff meeting. I also joined the "Draw All You Can Challenge" Facebook group and completed the 7-Day Draw All You Can Challenge. By posting my work in the group, I have received feedback and positive support from people across the globe.
As the world is beginning to emerge from the winter of 2021 and the landscape of Texas is starting to green, I feel hopeful. I look forward to using Draw All You Can in my own classes and future (in person!) “Family Art Nights,” community outreach events, and even summer camps. The ongoing personal support and encouragement from Hiep Nguyen and other online communities of educators has reignited my own desire to share the restorative power of artmaking with others. I am dreaming big, armed with new skills and techniques, eager for all the new opportunities and ready to face any new challenges that may lie ahead.
Stevie Ballow (email@example.com) is an engineer-turned-elementary art teacher at “Studio 600,” a TAB Art Studio located inside Shady Oak Primary School in Richmond, Texas. Hiep Nguyen is the founder and creator of Circle Painting and Draw All You Can. He currently resides in California. For lesson plans, videos, and other resources, or to become certified in the Circle Painting or Draw All You Can methods, please visit www.circlepainting.org.