Lincoln first graders in Mr. Estragues’ class intently gaze at their hands. They are drawing one hand without lifting their pencils from their paper with the other. They know this is called a continuous line drawing, and they know it is called linea continua in Spanish.

The artists remember to line up their pencil with their noses to show their eyes where to look, and they try not to look at their papers too often. The room is absolutely silent and the focus of keen eyes on small hands is incredible.

Award-winning artist, art educator, and Lincoln parent Guillermo Delgado heads the art-side of the six-week collaboration with first-grade teacher Mr. Estragues for these 27 young artists. Mr. Delgado recently was awarded the Curricular Service Learning and Civic Engagement Award from Michigan State University where he is a Lecturer, and he brings a community-building perspective to art in the classroom that engages these six- and seven-year-olds.

During Art Start, Mr. Delgado has taught the students how to use everyday supplies and basic techniques to make meaningful works. With pencils and paper, first-graders are putting their fine motor skills to the test as they fold and sketch to make ‘Zines full of various kinds of lines, from scribbles to linea continua to cross-hatching. They are models for each other, intently avoiding looking at their portrait being drawn. They use their class mascot, Bobby the dog, as an excellent model for a three-quarter pose, and shade him with hatching. As they work, they are serious but excited about their undertaking as artists.

Students report that they liked the free draw best, and liked using lots of new lines in their art. They think that it’s really important for models and artists to show respect for each other. And they laugh uproariously when Mr. Estragues compliments Mr. Delgado’s continuous line portrait by saying, “You should be an artist!” The collaboration between Mr. Delgado and Mr. Estragues is a hallmark of OPEF programs that pair experts in their fields with innovative teachers. While Mr. Delgado teaches techniques and terms to the students, Mr. Estragues incorporates instructions and explanations in Spanish. Brought together through OPEF, they bring an integrated program in art and language arts to students who are also learning life-long skills of expression, respect, collaboration, challenge, and persistence.

See pictures here.