Courbet Deer Drawings


Gustave Courbet created a few gorgeous paintings depicting deer in the woods. As a teacher in a very woodsy, New Hampshire community, I thought it would be a perfect subject for my 4th graders to draw!



What you need:


Let’s get started!

Step One:

We begin by looking at Courbet’s beautiful deer paintings. We discuss the colors we see, what the deer are doing, how the river flows through the forest…

I have printed out dozens of pictures of deer each in a different pose, some babies (little kids love baby animals) some adults.

Then I teach how to draw a deer.

As usual, I gather my class around me at a table and I begin to draw an ice cream cone. I find that with children you need to break down objects into shapes and for a deer’s head an ice cream cone is a simple trick!


The circle, or ice cream, is the head and the cone is the snout. Then we add pointy, oval ears. As for the body I teach the kids observational drawing skills. I tell them to constantly look back and forth from their drawing to their reference photo and to slowly move along the edge of the object “like an ant crawling along the outline”.



Most kids pick it up right away, a couple need some extra help once they begin.

I ask that they include at least 2 deer.


Step Two:

Once finished drawing the outlines, we use our charcoal pencils to add a little shading. Then I do a chalk pastel demo. I show how to use every different color brown, light on top for a highlight and dark underneath for shadows. I show how to use a finger or a tissue to blend. Then I show how to make leaves on trees by different colored green squiggles and grass by flicking our pastel upward.



My fourth graders worked intently on these for weeks and were so proud of the finished products. Each work of art took on its own story. I hope you enjoy this project as much as we did! Have Fun!


Student Examples:

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4    6

7    13

15    17