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Re: [teacherartexchange] observational skills/copying


From: Peggy Woolsey (eoolspeg_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 10:15:13 PDT

On Aug 15, 2006, at 12:03 PM, jlhanson wrote:

> 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!

There is truly a great dilemma in what you are pointing out here--we
want our students to love art and making art. Yet they are not the same
in ability, effort, etc. Evaluation is becoming more difficult all the
time, as students who get low marks in art pass this info on and many
students who are marginally interested in taking art will not do so if
they can't be sure of a good grade. It is a balance from year to year
as the art courses in my school are based on demand. Too strenuous,
fewer students. Too loose, too many unmotivated and inattentive
students. And yes, we are ever so democratic in our acceptance of
variety of work styles, deadlines, and other variables. How can we not
be otherwise? Sometimes I think the European systems are
better--students streamed at early ages.
> 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.
Well, have you ever heard of Marshall MacLuhan? His main thesis was
that technology would turn us away from the "Gutenburg Galaxy" and into
the "Global Village" via television etc. He didn't know about the
internet but he preconcieved it in the late 1060's. Television et al,
he mused, turned us from readers back to listeners, hearing stories and
seeing images and light, just as our ancestors heard their storytellers
around the fires.
> L. Hanson
> ---
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