Garlic, seven ways: a recipe for student motivation

Garlic, seven ways. Sounds like a recipe, right? If you think of it in terms of drawing, I guess it is. This is my Sunday preparation for my classes tomorrow when I teach my first year students, many of whom don’t draw at all, how to keep a sketchbook. It’s not an easy task. This is a generation of kids who do everything on phones and computers. Using a pencil and paper is a little bit foreign to them. But I am a big believer in sketching out ideas, even for these graphic design students who are learning Adobe Illustrator for the first time. Because when you think about it, how can you illustrate something if you haven’t observed it, looked at its contours or thought about lights and darks?

The challenge for me is to find out how to keep them motivated enough to keep drawing all semester. I want them to draw at least twice a week so I’ve given them a list of ideas (draw your shoes, draw your lunch, draw a lamp, etc) but I also need to show them some techniques of drawing that we will practice in class tomorrow. I sat down last evening to draw three heads of garlic on my counter, and did a few more today. Garlic in contour, garlic with pencil shading and water-soluble graphite, garlic with brush pen (both permanent and water-soluble), garlic in monochrome (watercolour stick) and finally garlic in colour. I’ll load up my bad with art supplies for them to try, and keep my fingers crossed that this will be enough to get them started. Maybe I’ll even find one student who will take on the challenge of drawing three heads of garlic all semester…



36 Comments on “Garlic, seven ways: a recipe for student motivation”

  1. loisajay says:

    Pass the garlic around after class. Every eats a clove and then talks…real close up. Ending class on a high note with lots of laughs….and, hopefully, breath mints!


  2. Alison says:

    I’m motivated! I have harvested my garlic, so it’s ready for a portrait.
    Wonderful drawings Shari, the lowly garlic has never looked so good.


  3. Lisa daniels says:

    Hi Shari
    You are so inspirational. I wish I had you when I was in school! I marvel at all your drewings and paintings.


  4. janewright2017 says:

    Here’s hoping that you have a few students that will rise to the challenge and do garlic all semester, it would be a real adventure for them…..maybe I’ll try it too!


  5. UKlady says:

    Really interesting. Thank you. It would be great to progress along with your students.

    Adrienne Stanton



  6. I think your suggestion of drawing everyday objects (shoes, lunch, lamp) will serve them well. I remember my first drawing class at Purdue when I was starting Interior Design. I didn’t even know there different leads for pencils till I had to purchase for the class. We had to draw every day. It was a practice that I’ve called on over the years…and it truly is the everyday in life that provides the best inspiration! Have FUN with the class!


    • Thanks so much for writing about your experience too. I always love to hear about other drawing classes. When I was studying graphic design in university, I took a drawing class. We drew the same chair all semester! It was an amazing class and I’ll never forget it. I still have all the drawings, somewhere in the back of a closet in my basement.


  7. I hope your students realize how fortunate they are to have you as an instructor!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Julie Taylor says:

    I wish I were going to be in that class! What a great inspiration for the students…


  9. romy2611 says:

    I don’t know about the students, but I am motivated enough!👍🏻👍🏻


  10. sounds like a peachy assignment for me as my counters are currently covered with peaches.
    Thanks for the challenge-contour, pencil shading, pen and ink and brush, monochromatic and in color- here i go.


  11. Lynn says:

    I agree with Holly above – an assignment for me as well. Thanks for the images. I’m sure we all wish we were in your class!


  12. Villoo says:

    What a brilliant idea! You are truly inspirational and I hope your students will be just as motivated as me! I have been practising drawing on odd bits of paper but now I will sketch daily in a sketchbook at home- one subject per week in seven different ways! How much time for each?


  13. Chris Rusk says:

    Like a tune that repeats in your brain once you’ve heard it… I want to draw garlic today.

    Related but not related:
    Braided garlic might extend inspiration. (future computer game artists might like the thought process involved).


  14. Monique says:

    I harvested my garlic and will try every day:)


  15. Eileen Sim says:

    Haha it does sound like a dish! (I watched too many tv shows with Bobby Flay in it).

    Maybe it is a good thing that the pencil and paper are foreign to them. It may spark more creativity out of them! Good luck with your students. I hope they stay motivated and that you continue to share your classes with us. No harm for you to crowdsource more ideas for your class.

    Hmm I feel like taking on the challenge of drawing garlic seven ways! I mean I love food and art.


  16. Judy Sopher says:

    Shari, this was such a surprise as I have been drawing and painting garlic for years. But I never imagined anyone else would see what I see in them. The lines and colors are fascinating. I have put them in sill lives and never tire of drawing them.

    Love how you did them 6 ways using various media. I have two on my kitchen windowsill that just beg to be drawn. Thanks for the inspiration.


  17. Suzanne says:

    Sad but true re physically handling actual art-making materials. Do young people even doodle on paper?
    I wish I was physically in your class for the discipline and motivation it might instill.
    That’s a very good exercise for your students. How wonderful for you to play a part in their “épanouissement”.
    Your garlic sketches, I like ’em all.


  18. I love how each material produces such a different look to the garlic heads. I hope the students enjoy drawing…but I know how hard it is to motivate someone who has not been sketching. I think the suggested prompts will be helpful too. Have a wonderful year with them!


  19. Lucille Whalen says:

    Hi Shari,have been following your blog for some time and learning a good deal.Where would I find the water soluble ink pen and what brand is it.Thanks very much ,


  20. louboyer says:

    Hi Shari, Can you tell me where I can get the detailed info on where and when the Urban sketchers meet to sketch in Montreal? I live in the Eastern Townships, and met the group, in Old Montreal the 5 ´th August. They told me you guys meet every 4′ th sunday of the month. I don’t see the info on their FB page?! I am on facebook : And I follow a course with you on Craftsy. I am also on your mailing list. A fan , Louise Boyer ☺️Xx


  21. Thyme says:

    Shari, your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher. When I was in high school I wasn’t able to take art because I failed PE. Long story. Because of that I wasn’t able to take any of the subsequent art classes throughout all my years of high school. It want until much later in life that I decided to take art classes through the local art centre and through Crafty (your sketching classes), and learning through the generosity of artist blogs like yours. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you touch and inspire a lot of people daily. I’m sure you’ve reached more of your students than you think.


    • Thyme, you have no idea how much this means to me. I am spending the day grading projects and feeling like I would rather be painting. This gave me such a lift and I thank you profusely for that. I am happy to hear that you have art back in your life.


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