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Lesson 2: How Can We Use Our Sketchbook?


Students will observe other artists’ sketchbooks and explore their own ideas through drawing and collecting in their sketchbooks.

Grade Level



Drawing, Construction

Theme/Big Idea

Artists use sketchbooks to express themselves, explore ideas and record what they see. 

Essential Question

What is a sketchbook and how does an artist use it?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Slide Deck

Materials and Tools

  • Your sketchbook
  • Pencil (crayon, marker, other drawing tool)     


Artists use many kinds of materials in their sketchbooks including paint, pencils, paper and glue. Let’s explore some ideas together in our sketchbooks!  

Step 1:  Explore drawing different types of lines in your sketchbook. 

Step 2:  Explore drawing the lines of your hand from observation. 

Step 3:  Find a special place to keep your sketchbook.

Close Looking: El Anatsui

Look at this drawing by the artist El Anatsui.

Note to Teachers: Before teaching with a work of art, spend some time looking closely on your own. Familiarizing yourself with the artwork will prepare you to guide the close looking activity. 

If your students are new to looking at art together, you can introduce the activity to students in the following way:

Today we are going to spend some time looking at and discussing a work of art together. When we look at art, there are no right or wrong answers. I’m going to ask you to look closely, share your ideas about what you see, and listen respectfully to others’ ideas. Everyone’s ideas are important. We all see things differently and when we look at art, we can learn to see through each other’s eyes.

El Anatsui, Drawing 1, 1991
  • What kinds of lines did he use? (thick, dark, wide, diagonal etc.) 
  • How do you think the artist got his ideas? Do you think the artist was drawing from observation? From his imagination?  
  • Do parts of the drawing remind you of anything?  

Reflection Questions for Discussion

  • What kinds of lines did you make in your sketchbook?


El Anatsui, Drawing 1, 1991