Negative Space ExperienceThere are also problems that occur in having kids
focus on only the expressive side of art in primary and secondary school and
that problem has to do with being lazy and not being open and respectful to
all ways of creating and learning from the lessons of the past to our
present time...I think if you find ways of showing the vocabulary in an
entertaining and interactive way, then they will be that much ahead when
they decide to take art in college...I got the elements and principles
taught to me in high school and it gave me a head start...I could make
stronger images that were also expressive for me...and people would notice
them more when I did use the design elements...there is so much more to
making art than just the expressive... maybe the expressive is why we
create...but we create better, clearer, visually by knowing techniques and
the real language of art and what we have to help us create...and, I know
that we all learn by doing things repetitively through all stages of our
life...if we are closed off to the structured ways of making art, then we
are basically saying that anything we make is worthy of being a
masterpiece...sometimes art is ugly and not meant to be a masterpiece..that
is how we grow by creating things that we learn from doing...throwing them
away and starting again with what we have learned...and exploring the
elements and principles is an easier way of getting there than just creating
using no visual help or structure...I define a masterpiece as that art which
affects us personally as artists in the making, enough so that we feel the
need to send it out to an audience...and if we do that, we bear the
responsibility of being able to communicate the expressive and that is
through the technical (and the organizational-elements and principles)...and
if we used the design elements and principles, then it will show up in the
work and more people will take notice...but if we just say that "I don't
care what it looks like, its all about my expression...and thats all that
matters...and that is how I define art in all realms"...then how are we ever
to grow? and actually keep growing skillfully in art...teaching college, I
can tell the students who had teachers in high school that just stressed the
expressive aspects and not the formal aspects and the "how to" on drawing
and other skill oriented techniques...they do not even want to listen to
what I have to say...and they have this inability to be open to other ways
of learning than just the expressive mode of making a piece of art...I have
had people say that its easier to make a piece of art without any of the
structure...well, hell yes, its easier...anyone could do that...but what
does that do to allowing them access to the world and the past and to help
them grow? Knowledge is power....and in learning, if people think its too
hard then they think they cannot learn it...where is the power and progress
there? somehow, they are learning before they get to college, that the
elements and principles and skills are too hard to use...and that runs
counter to what I am asked to teach...if you go to school...be it high
school or college and don't learn the vocabulary and what it means in
practical hands on use, then the past truely becomes obsolete...and that
means the art in the past doesn't matter anymore, that includes the cave
paintings...the art of the past was much stronger technically than what we
do today, that makes no sense to me...I think its because we tend to be
going backwards in our ability to learn and have real skills...we give up
and become too lazy and have people tell us to just be
expressive...etc...human art started with the cave painters...and it become
more technically stronger as culture was created and the need to express and
communicate things clearly became more important...the cave painters were
not only expressive, but they were clear about what they represented...if
its not important for art to be communicative, then we could go backwards
instead of trying to go forward...so, I think its kind of crazy to just
reject teaching things that kids might have hard times learning...instead,
it is important to keep thinking of ways they might learn those things
better...and, kids are always going to find ways of expressing feelings and
ideas...but if they have other things they are learning along side, they
will be much more developed visual thinkers...
From: The Hammond Family [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2003 4:48 PM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: Negative Space Experience
----- Original Message -----
From: Patricia Knott
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 5:46 PM
Subject: Negative Space Experience
This is what is wrong with the standards and how we think art should be
"they " are not going to get it
and even if they get it for a lesson
"it' doesn't carry over"
I will never "get" certain rules of grammar, I will never "get" beyond
what what was drilled to me in basic math, .. and science - well if
somebody can tell me what the point is in memorizing the periodic table
Same is true in art.
We spend our time being frustrated over teaching elements and principles
that sometimes we ourselves don't understand.
And we expect kids to get "it." I didn't get "it" until I was in
Let's not get hung up on the "grammar." Let's get hung up on finding
ways that kids express and then
point out how the expression was significant
who cares about negative space?????
care about what they want to express and then coddle them into ways of
expressing it better.
I have spent an enormous amount of time investigating assessment in art.
The majority is product oriented. Art is going into directions that I am not
sure we are addressing.
And I don't find evidence of why the "grammar' of art is not retained.
Just like I resist in other disciplines I don't know why why we
expect kids to get what they resist about what we think is important to
teach in art.
Can we accept that and find another way?
I don't ever want to penalize a kid because the perception is different
from the standard I am being bound to.
Where did art expression come from? Certainly the cave painters didn't
have a teacher telling them about elements and principles and god
forbid if they had.
We have to look at some ways to do this differently.
P.S. Betty - this is not a criticism of you. We ALL have to look
I hate rules
I trust myself and I try to teach my students to trust even when
it's not my rule
Art history has been a series of progressing through disregarding and
I don't know why we hold onto to something that has outlived it's time and
not progress to the next expression.
What is negative space? a black hole?