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Re:[teacherartexchange] observational skills/copying

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From: jlhanson (jlhanson_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 08:03:13 PDT


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:00 AM
Subject: teacherartexchange digest: August 14, 2006

>> Can someone tell me why it is important for a
>> student to go through
>> the pain and agony of having to draw, when they know
>> they can't
>> (just as I know I can't make music or get beyond 1+2
>> =3 and know
>> that any tricks will not get me to care about
>> making music or going
>> beyond simple math)
>> Let's let go of the drawing and let's see that each
>> kid finds a way
>> to express through any means Art allows for all
>> means. Everybody
>> talks about the standards and meeting them, But
>> they are so open you
>> can use any method to achieve the goals. Drawing is
>> not a standard.
>>
>>
This is my first time posting, even though I've been reading for a year or
more! First I have to say that I respect everyone's opinions on here! I've
been encouraged so many times by reading experiences that mirror what I've
gone through! I teach upper elementary, jr high and high school art in a
private school in MN, and I couldn't resist jumping in with my 2 cents on
the copying/drawing issue....

I so agree with Marvin Bartel's opinion posted yesterday as well. Copying
feels like cheating to me. Tracing is an absolute no-no. (Unless tracing
their own drawing on the light box) I teach observational skills as early
as I can, and use photos as reference only occasionally in the upper grades
when necessary. And even then I want them to bring in photos that they
themselves have taken, or if they use stock photos, to use only a portion of
them in order to make the final product "original" to them.

As an artist myself, the satisfaction of the finished product, (and just as
importantly, the process) is that from start to finish, it's truly my own.
With technology these days, what I see happening is that "everyone" is an
artist. Hey, just grab a photo from somewhere, tweak it a little in
photoshop, and wa-la, you're an artist. Kids are tracing, and it's art.
Draw a parrot like this---you're an artist! Suddenly, everyone is on the
same plane, from the 10 year old, to my neighbor, to me. Those with the
truly God-given, natural talent suddenly aren't all that special, they're
just one in a million. As an artist and an art teacher, is that the message
I want to give? To the gifted artist it's like saying, oh well, just
submerge something in urine and forget trying to put hours and hours into
that wonderful still life. To the average person, it's saying, go ahead and
enter the art field, anyone can sit at the keyboard and make "art" happen.

I want EVERY student I have to love art and making art. But I also know
that they won't love or be ultra successful at every medium. However, I
still teach it. Tracing or copying doesn't do anyone any favors in the long
run. Sometimes I think in our efforts to be "politically correct", and
all-inclusive, we water down the truly talented.
The musically gifted still have to go through the "pain" of scales. The
mathematicians have to go through the "pain" of algebra, geometry, calculus,
etc... By the time a student is in the upper grades and chooses to be in
art class, I hope they understand that art IS work, and being talented IS
special, and NOT everyone can do it!

So, I guess that's way more than my two cents! These are good issues to
struggle with and to work through. I think it's an awesome discussion, and
it's good for me to hear all the "sides".
One more random thought: I think that as we get more "advanced"
technologically, etc..., the more "tribal" culture gets. So, in advancing,
we're in fact becoming more primitive. How's that for a radical view?
(Compare art today with ancient tribal art. Look at body
piercing/decorating and primitive cultures..... etc...) Everything old is
new again.

L. Hanson

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