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RE: teaching pencil shading-m.s.


From: Jeanne Voltura (jvoltura_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 23 2003 - 13:31:54 PDT

I teach college (and kids to a smaller degree)which I am sure is a different
approach than teaching middle and high school...yet, I think its also kind
of the same because there are people in my classes that have not drawn since
they were 5...I do spend about 6 hours a week with the people in my classes
(an average of 20 people)...per class...not sure if that is more or less
than the time spent on art with kids in middle school...and it is 3 hours in
a row instead of broken up which is how primary and secondary school is
organized...I think I have come up with several good ways of teaching about
tonal value/shading as seen on real observed objects with a light source. My
approach is layered and really is reliant on each activity or lesson that
comes before it all blends together and is woven from one element to
another...before I start this semester, I am going to bring in a few
exercises on the idea of cooperation within the class which I think will set
the tone and give people more information on how to maintain themselves in
my class...and then I plan on doing a group activity about what skills are
involved in being a good drawing student: control of your body, voice, and
imagination..etc...I found some great exercises to use that come from a
artist that teaches teachers to teach intergrated art lessons and he is from
the Kennedy Center program...then I usually start to talk in depth about how
in order to draw better, you have to observe better...and we do an exercise
where as a group, they have to take an orange (which I give to them) and
they have to observe it with all their five senses...we talk in depth about
the different meanings and associations of an it grows and what
it is similar to...and what the texture is like...what it smells like in
each stage of pre-pealing to eating about how to draw the texture
of it...and what that would look like...and what it is similar
to...etc...when we start drawing, I start talking about how all objects have
some sense of light source on them and how in a drawing it makes for a more
interesting/realistic image to always think of an object or subject as
having a light source. I show examples (real and slides) of this and we
critique them...and ask why and how the light source is shown...We go though
the different practices of using line and talk about making up and imagining
a light source in a contour drawing...this brings in the idea of variety of
line...we do a few exercises and assignments on modified contour using
variety of line...there are other line exercises we do...but we also do
exercises on using pointillism and cross hatching...they love using
pointillism and showing a light source...I do that before the soft shading
because its more challenging but somehow they like it better and then when
they start to shade softly, they have come from a harder way of doing it
with line and blending softly...they accept the softer blending
faster because its easier....going back to contour and value, if kids or
adults can imagine a light source and how that would effect line variety in
a contour drawing then when they start to see objects having a light source,
they will be able to see the different tones better in order to try to
capture them...When we do start to use value on the interior of the objects,
I set up objects, talk about what kinds of different light sources there about the sun and the moon and how the moon is all about light
and about the different names of the shades and lights...and
show how when the light changes direction and intensity, that the shades and
highlights change dramatically too...I have them make a gray scale and try
to illustrate how the gray scale mimics values on real objects...and even
point that out in a real set up example. I have them do a gray scale in
three different mediums: charcoal and eraser, ink washes, and pencil. Then I
set up eggs on velvet fabric...always looks dramatic...and have them try to
draw these with shading using the different mediums above...we also do two
other studies on black and gray canson paper...on gray using black and white
charcoal/pastel...and on black using white pastel...there is more after
this...but this is the general approach to the class...its layered and gears
itself to tactile and sensory experiences...

I think there always has to be a layering of info...and there also has to be
drama as part of the explanation of any given element in order for kids or
adults to learn...sort of have to wow the crowd...and keep them entertained
in order to learn and appreciate the skills they are going to have to try to
learn...somehow affecting peoples senses has a deeper impact into their
learning experiences...

I also work with kids...and these same ideas of teaching has a similar

-----Original Message-----
From: Donald Arcement []
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 7:35 PM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: teaching pencil shading-m.s.

Mike, I always cover shading with my 7th and 8th grade classes. It is
undoubtedly the most difficult concept for most of the students to grasp and
it seems that they can't see the tonal variations as we, the
artist/teachers, seem to see rather readily. Being an artist for so long,
it is hard for me to understand that tonal variation is hard to observe and
imitate on paper. But value has been one of the toughest areas for me to
teach and reach the students. I refuse to give-up trying new ideas, because
a good tonal drawing is so magnificent! So I plug along each semester
trying new methods...I haven't found the "golden mean-solution", if you know
what I mean, but I'm still open to any suggestions that I can get from other
art teachers.

Idus in southern Mississippi (about an hour from New Orleans)

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: "ArtsEdNet Talk" <>
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 4:54 PM
Subject: teaching pencil shading-m.s.

> I'm interested in knowing how many middle school/junior high teachers
> pencil shading in general art classes. I'm talking required classes and
> electives. I haven't taught pencil shading yet and I'm thinking about it
for my
> 8th grade, but I have all levels of ability in these classes. Also, how
> enjoyable, or not, is it for them.
> thanks in advance
> mike sacco
> p.j gelinas jhs
> setauket, NY
> ---