The End of the Trail
James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)
Plaster (approximately 17' x 14' x 5')
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum,
Exercise: Visual Art/Language Arts
Objectives and Overview
The objective of this exercise is for each student to create an original contour drawing representing or inspired by the sculpture The End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser. Students should then fill the space inside the drawing with words and/or phrases that illustrate the moods and/or emotions present in the work of art, their interpretation of the artist's meaning for the sculpture, or what the piece means to them. *To modify this exercise, have students fill the space inside their contour drawing with a collage of images and/or words cut out from magazines and/or newspapers.
Transparency or color copy of The End of the Trail
8 1/2 x 11" white copy paper
Markers and/or crayons
*Magazines, newspapers, and glue
- Begin this exercise by showing students a transparency or copy of The End of the Trail and ask students each of the following questions. Make a list of their responses on the board. Encourage all students to provide their input, and remind them that there are no right or wrong answers; this is simply a brainstorming exercise.
- What do you think the artist was trying to tell us when he created this sculpture?
- Which moods or emotions has the artist depicted in this piece?
- What does this work of art mean to you?
- Distribute paper, pencils, and markers or crayons to students while explaining the term "contour."
- A contour is an outline or the outside edge of something. Contour lines define the objects, forms, or shapes in a drawing, painting, sculpture, or other work of art.
- Demonstrate how to draw a contour by placing your hand on the board and tracing it. Then using the transparency or copy of The End of the Trail and a marker, trace the contour of the sculpture for students. Next demonstrate how to create a contour sketch of The End of the Trail using a pencil by drawing, not tracing, the image on a sheet of paper taped to the board.
- Working from observation, memory, or imagination, have students create their own contour sketches of The End of the Trail using pencils. Encourage students to make their drawings large and fill their paper to the edges. Once they have finished their sketches, students may trace the contour line with a black marker or crayon.
- Refer students back to their responses listed on the board. Using pencils, markers or crayons have students fill the space inside their contour drawings with words or phrases that describe the moods or emotions of the sculpture, the artist's meaning for the work, and/or what the sculpture means to the student.
- *Modification: Have students select and cut out words and/or images from magazines and/or newspapers that describe the moods or emotions of the sculpture, the artist's meaning for the work, and/or what the sculpture means to the student. Using glue, students should collage these words and/or images into the space inside their contour drawings.