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Re: [teacherartexchange] observational skills/copying


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 11:26:32 PDT

I think these lists serve two purposes
1) to help and aid with advice on practical problems and share
successes and resources
  and 2) to think about all the current issues and methods and
alternative thinking.

Since I posed some of the thoughts people are responding to I want to
answer with some more thoughts.
> Copying feels like cheating to me.
Copying always feels like cheating to me too. But this generation has
definite ideas about what is free use, so my job becomes a battle
with determining original thought. Marvin talked very well about
how kids, without instruction, teach themselves to copy. I did
it myself - and I see Jon Nagy's learn to draw kit is still on the
market. Nobody in my school was teaching me how to draw in the 50's.
I would spend hours trying to win the "you can draw contest "on
matchbooks. .. and I would always win. And I drew and drew and drew.
It was my passion and I thought every body could make the
relationships I made. I didn't know that everybody didn't want to
draw and draw and draw. I think we still fail to realize why kids
stop drawing at a certain age. Could it be that we put on
expectations they are not ready to realize? and then they get
frustrated and we we don't value the frustrations? I like to find
the special insight and nurture that and keep that initiative rather
than push stuff they are not ready to "get." I truly think we are
born with the need to draw -- but something kills it very early. And
I think that something is teacher expectations with formulas that
don't work for every kid.

> 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.
YEP YEP and what I see in most rubrics is that the process is
secondary to the product, and the product is put on a scale without
regard for the inquiry and experimentation and maybe failing to get a
good product. That's why we offer so many alternatives in art. The
gifts and success may come in many ways besides drawing. I'll just
give a couple of examples: I had a student who couldn't even come
to school in 9th grade for school phobias. In 10th grade he joined my
video club. After that, the camcorder was never away from his face.
The observations he made with that camera well exceeded any drawing
that was going on. I invited him to my Advanced and Ap classes. I
bullied him to drawing story boards. He did it, primitively. But,
the lesson was he was thinking and planning what he wanted to
accomplish in his videos. So is that less than doing a good drawing?
I had a student a few years ago who had the most inventive brain I've
ever seen. She couldn't draw, but she could collage with unique
qualities I rarely see. She was all about theater and performance so
I encouraged that... and now she is a costume designer.
If the camcorder or the cut and paste can open places of
investigation and insight how much do I take the time to make them
draw? This list has been going back and forth on altered books.
It's another way to draw, isn't it.?
What we all need to do is find that start place for the student to
find a success. If that start place is "drawing" back into something
that already exists, ok. If the start point is drawing with a
camera, ok? If the start place is you have to do a still life--- I
don't know?

> With technology these days, what I see happening is that "everyone"
> is an artist.
I think our plan is that every one is an artist or at least we can
teach them to think like one. What disturbs me is the little
innovation in what the technology can accomplish and where do we take
it to? What is our responsibility to make the new and emerging come
into the frame of artistic thinking? The software does allow
everybody to click a button and " make" something and sometimes those
easy clicks even enthrall me. The chore is to teach some decision
making about those button clicks. As they are clicking through those
buttons we need to be very aware that guidance and forward thinking
with those buttons is the aim. I have to teach less and less about
the buttons, but I have to teach more and more about decision making
and problem solving.

Most of us teach those with less than god given talents. And we
struggle with what is the ultimate objective? and how do we get them
to exist a class with "something" they will carry with them. And
that's why I want to avoid the notion that if you can't draw you
can't observe. I want EVERY student to be successful in making an
expression and understand that the expression is valid whatever form
it takes. Rigor is rigor and it can take many manifestations. I guess
the lesson I want is -- how are you going to take all the ways and
means I can offer you to make art and take it to the place I haven't
seen yet?
> 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.

That's an extremely interesting proposal and one worth wondering
about. I truly see that both sides can be accomplished. After so may
years of being repelled by body piercing and and tattooing, I'm
starting to understand the NEED. And, I'm dealing much with body
adornment. Why the need is a subject for a whole long other post, but
we are definitely dealing with a generation caught between what was
and what can be and they no little which way to turn-- so they do it
all and they are not sure why they do it.. and they are either self-
destructive in the process, or playing the game. I have an aversion
to playing the game, so I look for ways that take old and new and
blend and transform and bring at least an understanding why the
student made the chioces.

Our job is so awesome in finding the ways and means for them to have
the ways and means to find just how they express. Every thing else
they do is saddled in standards. Lets not make art so standard.
Let's give them every opportunity to make good choices. ( and
understand their choices)


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