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Re: [teacherartexchange] Daily warm ups?

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From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 12 2006 - 13:50:21 PDT


You wrote:
> . . . Copying a drawing that is projected upside down is a good activity . . .

IS COPYING A GOOD LEARNING EXPERIENCE?

Why copy when it is essentially as easy to teach them from actual objects?
Why not set up or hang up a toy or some other evocative object and have them draw it?
I like live animals, real plants, real fruits, vegetables, real flowers, people, mirrors, etc. I cut foods open. Smell, taste, and sounds are proven to add motivation and get better results. I call attention to lighting, to framing, size, line character, tool usage, etc.

I ask them to first draw it in the air for practice so they look at it better before drawing it. Using a BLINDER on the pencil gets the point of not obsessing about how it looks. A warm up ritual is PRACTICE. It can be a time to learn without worry about getting it exactly right.

If it is upside down, requiring them to turn if over mentally, use something very easy at first, but I do not use a picture. I use a real thing.

Copying is not only anti creative. It is ANTI LEARNING. Kids who have no art teachers often teach themselves through copy work. They want to learn to draw, but copying is their only option since they are deprived of a professionally trained art teacher. Learning to draw by copying often results in dependency on copy work. This is because they have not gained confidence in their ability to draw from observation. They see that their copied drawing look nicer than things they draw from observation or from memory.

Of course copying was used prior to cameras as a practical matter to save time and effort in the production of a commodity. Producing pictures as a commodity to sell is not what teaching/learning in art in today's world where this is done so much easier with technology.

Copying is also used by those who teach themselves to draw. Those who learn by copying might learn about using grids, but they do not learn to use other sighting aides. They do not learn to measure with their pencil at arms length, they do not learn to use viewfinders, they do not learn to see proportions, they do not learn to compare angles, they do not learn to see perspective, they do not learn how easy blind contour contour works, they do not learn to compose and design, they do not learn to see shading, they do not learn to make the many choices as they work, and they do not learn expressive gesture drawing. They grow up visually handicapped as compared to those who learn and become competent under the instruction of a good drawing teacher. If you do not have an art teacher, you do the best you can. You learn by copying and you learn from drawing books that give the formulas from drawing experts who are trying to sell books.

Our brains develop quite differently when we learn to compose flat pictures from things that are three dimensional than when we merely imitate a picture. Also, our brains develop quite differently when drawing from formulas out of drawing books than when learning to figure out our own conclusions from our own observations and experimentations.

I hope for brains that can think on their own based on their own observations, experiences, and experiments. I honestly fear a world in which brains that have been taught to believe in and depend on experts.

Marvin Bartel

Dr. Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
http://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/ritual.html
http://www.goshen.edu/~marvinpb/lessons/rabbit.html
http://www.bartelart.com/arted/ideas.html
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.

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