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Remember when you were a kid and the thought of drawing on the blackboard in school was the most thrilling idea ever? There was something about the smoothness of the chalkboard, the white-on-black contrast to black-on-white pencil, and the rarity of the occasion. It all came together in one dusty dream.

Well, it turns out that even adults like drawing on the board, and back in 1908, an artist and teacher named Frederick Whitney of Salem, Massachusetts, saw a way to incorporate art into his lessons.

He published a book called Blackboard Sketching, which is full of lessons on how to successfully illustrate on the chalkboard (even if you”re not very artistically inclined).

He published a book called <em><a href="https://archive.org/details/blackboardsketch00whit" target="_blank">Blackboard Sketching</a></em>, which is full of lessons on how to successfully illustrate on the chalkboard (even if you

Instead of using the board strictly for letters and numbers, he argued that all teachers should be able to illustrate their lessons with chalk. He explained that, “The ability to draw easily on the blackboard is a power which every teacher covets. Such drawing is a language which never fails to hold attention and awaken delighted interest.”

The book opens with a few fairly simple strokes. These will act as the basis for any good chalkboard pictorial.

The book opens with a few fairly simple strokes. These will act as the basis for any good chalkboard pictorial.

Beginning with the basics, Whitney demonstrates how to create more complex images.

By altering the position, pressure, and angle of the chalk, you can illustrate different patterns and textures.

By altering the position, pressure, and angle of the chalk, you can illustrate different patterns and textures.

In this case, the illusion of roundness is a reworking of basic vertical strokes.

In this case, the illusion of roundness is a reworking of basic vertical strokes.

Forms are built up from simple lines and shapes, and then fleshed out in greater detail.

Forms are built up from simple lines and shapes, and then fleshed out in greater detail.

Aside from the lessons, Blackboard Sketching is full of masterful pieces of artwork by Whitney himself. Each image comes with a full set of instructions and tips for recreating it. He also offers advice on how to work the illustrations into classroom lessons so that students have a visual learning aid.

Some of the images are incredibly elaborate.

Some of the images are incredibly elaborate.

Unlike the process of creating shadows when drawing in pencil on white paper, this requires heavy focus on highlights. These lighter areas are achieved by building up layers of chalk.

Unlike the process of creating shadows when drawing in pencil on white paper, this requires heavy focus on highlights. These lighter areas are achieved by building up layers of chalk.

Whitney did, however, use charcoal to enhance the darkest areas.

With enough practice, you can get detailed, realistic sketches like this with a little chalk and slate.

With enough practice, you can get detailed, realistic sketches like this with a little chalk and slate.

(via Twisted Sifter)

If you”re interested in trying this out yourself, Whitney”s book is available for free download via Archive.org, and it”s also in the University of California”s Digital Library. You don”t need a blackboard; try this out on the driveway in warmer weather! It might not be as smooth, but you”ll still get some cool results.

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