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Drawing Upside Down Ships (C3W3)

Between Columbus, the Mayflower and the Boston Tea Party, I feel like Classical Conversations’ Cycle three, which includes American History, is a great time to draw an old ship! Plus, I really love the old ships.

As an aside, there’s a great little Maritime Museum in San Diego  In it, you’re allowed to explore ships and submarines from different eras and countries. I think the brochure says most people spend two hours there but when we went in 2015, we spent all day! it’s easy to find since it’s right next to the USS Midway Museum.

Draw it Upside Down!

For this drawing lesson we’ll use a fun technique called “upside down drawing.” It’s exactly like it sounds. You draw your subject upside down which, hopefully, forces you to really notice the basic shapes of the subject instead of drawing what your mind thinks should be there. Then you turn it rightside up and add the final details and color. This is another great training exercise to help us focus on basic shapes!


Since I know some of the tutors in my Classical Conversations community get a little nervous drawing in front of the class, I created a little cheat sheet for them to use as they walk the students, step-by-step, through drawing a ship.

You can purchase the Drawing Upside Down Ships Lesson Plan here.

This 6 page lesson plan includes the following:

  • A review of Basic Shapes
  • References to additional resources
  • 2 printable pictures of ships in artwork
  • Vocabulary words and definitions
  • Materials list
  • Detailed Art Project instructions
  • Step by step guide for drawing a tall ship
  • Options for scaling the project to different experience levels

American History Art Curriculum

Are you wondering what the rest of our Classical Conversations drawing art projects look like for cycle 3? Here they are! I’m making them available at a discount when purchased all together in the All American Drawing Package, or you can buy each separately:

  1. Drawing Basic Shapes with American Landmarks Lesson Plan
  2. Drawing the U.S. Capitol Building using Symmetry Lesson Plan
  3. Drawing Upside Down Ships Lesson Plan
  4. Using Color like Andy Warhol Lesson Plan
  5. Tricking the Eye with Op Art Lesson Plan
  6. Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Lesson Plan

You can see what our art projects for the first six weeks of last year (CC, cycle 2) looked like here.

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