DRAWING CANADIAN CREATURES – Inspired by the Codex Canadensis

Students use the drawings in the Codex Canadensis by the Jesuit missionary Louis Nicolas as inspiration for the creation of a drawing of a Canadian animal.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 5 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts

Vocabulary

codex canadensis line pattern repetition value

Materials

Crayola Fine Line Markers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Sketchbooks - 1 per student Pencils

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Steps

DRAWING CANADIAN CREATURES – Inspired by the Codex Canadensis - Step One

Step One

  1. View an image from the Codex Canadensis by Louis Nicolas.
  2. Describe what you see.
    - written words
    - repeated lines
    - lots of patterns
    - scratchy looking
    - realistic but also imaginary (whiskers on owl)
    - drawn with ink
    - different kinds of lines - thin, thick, zigzag
    - lines close together to show dark spaces and far apart to show light areas
    - several animals on one page

Image by Louis Nicolas (1634 - ca. 1682)

DRAWING CANADIAN CREATURES – Inspired by the Codex Canadensis - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose the Canadian animal you want to draw.
  2. Find a photo of the animal to use as your source.
  3. Draw your animal in your sketchbook using a similar style to that in the Codex.
DRAWING CANADIAN CREATURES – Inspired by the Codex Canadensis - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use your sketchbook drawing and the photo to draw your good copy.
  2. Make sure the image fills the page.
  3. Start with pencil to make a light outline of the main shapes.
  4. Add the lines and patterns with brown fine line marker.
DRAWING CANADIAN CREATURES – Inspired by the Codex Canadensis - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Add written information about your animal the way Louis Nicolas did.
  2. View your work with fresh eyes.
  3. Ask yourself:
    - Does it have lots of different kinds of lines?
    - Are the lines repeated to make a pattern?
    - Does it look realistic and a little imaginary?
    - Does it look similar to the style of Louis Nicolas in the Codex Canadensis?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • explain what the Codex Canadensis is and why it is important;
  • identify characteristics of the drawing style of Louis Nicolas;
  • create a drawing of a Canadian animal in a style similar to that found in the Codex Canadensis;
  • use a variety of lines to create patterns and values; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

Extensions

Have students work in teams to:

  • research the Codex Canadensis and how it relates to our understanding of settlement in New France during the 1700s;
  • create a graphic story about the life and times of Louis Nicolas inferring what his life as a Jesuit missionary in New France would be like and using the images in the Codex Canadensis to flesh out the story. (Graphic Story lesson plan)

Prepare

  1. Download images of pages of the Codex Canadensis from the Internet, for example,
    Manitou
    Sea Horse
    Owl
  2. Download and display the Repetition, Line, and Value posters available on this website.
  3. Preview the information about the Codex Canadensis at Louis Nicolas and Canadian Archives.
  4. Teach or review the settlement of New France in North America from 1534 to 1763.

Introduction

  1. View and discuss several animal images from the Codex Canadensis.
  2. Ask students to identify characteristics of the drawing style, for example:
    written words
    - repeated lines
    - lots of patterns
    - scratchy looking
    - realistic but also imaginary (whiskers on owl)
    - drawn with ink
    - different kinds of lines - thin, thick, zigzag
    - lines close together to show dark spaces and far apart to show light areas
    - several animals on one page
    - animals look alive even though they aren't realistic
  3. Provide some background information about the book and the artist.
    - Louis Nicolas was a Jesuit missionary in New France from 1664 - 1675
    - his book Codex Canadensis documents the natural history he observed
    - the book is considered one of the most significant documents of the 17th century
    - provides graphic information about the animals and detailed information about the Indigenous peoples
    - primary source document used to understand New France in the 17th century
    - 79 pages
    - 180 pen and ink drawings
    - self-taught artist
    - he modeled his drawings after European animals and birds
    - drawn with a feather quill pen
    - made the drawings from memory after he returned to France
  4. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Explain what the Codex Canadensis is and why it is important.
  2. Identify characteristics of the drawing style of Louis Nicolas.
  3. Create a drawing of a Canadian animal in a style similar to that of Louis Nicolas.
  4. Use a variety of lines to create patterns and values. 
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - used different kinds of lines
    - repeated lines to make patterns

    - drawn lines close together to show dark areas
    - drawn lines far apart to show light areas
    - drawn details that make the animal look realistic and imaginary
    - added written information to the drawing
    - kept the paper is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why;
    - talk about what they found satisfying about making this drawing and why.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Codex_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Codex_self-assessment.pdf)