Thank you so much for your input on this. An artist perspective is such a great and valued opinion.
I suggest to students both Elementary and High School being in the digital camera age to take photos to use for projects. I polled my students on who had a personal digital camera and was surprised to see who many had them. I offered them to bring in their memory cards, cameras to download the images to our classroom computers for them to manipulate the photos to create compositions they could use for works. This has worked very successfully.
I do suggest to students to work from "real" objects, develop compositions from observation. We discuss the transition of doing onsite sketches, taking photos of the observation, then moving back into the classroom (studio) to continue the composition.
The copy/imitation issue is a teachable moment. Like many things guiding students when to know to use copying/imitation is what we do as teachers.
For many competitions that my High School and Elementary students submit works for the word "original" comes up all the time. As a class we discuss that copying magazine photos or other works of art is not acceptable for submission and why it isn't. For our school art shows students must submit at least one "original" work and if a work is not "original" students must provide that information on their works id tag and within their artist statement. What is interesting is that over time the non-original works have decreased while the original works have increased.
> From: Woody Duncan <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] Learning by copying?
> To: "TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Sunday, August 17, 2008, 11:16 PM
> I work from photos myself but they are my own photos. I do
> not work
> from magazines or even other
> peoples photos. It's not just the ownership of the
> image that bothers
> me. My art is personal and my
> camera serves as my sketch book. I compose in the camera.
> have found some value in copying
> from old masters but students need to learn to see by
> drawing from
> observation before they utilize
> photos. The camera flattens space for them - they need to
> learn to
> translate the 3-D world onto a
> flat plane themselves. I'll be reading with interest
> what other
> teachers have to say on this topic. If
> you do have students copy - please make them understand
> what the
> arguments are against it.
> On Aug 16, 2008, at 10:31 PM, Andrea Cope wrote:
> > I'm about to begin my first year teaching high
> school art, though
> > I'm a seasoned teacher in other fine arts courses.
> My colleagues
> > insist that no copying ever be allowed, for any
> reason. While I
> > understand the importance of the students learning to
> > confidence in their own creativity, I also see the
> value of
> > learning via imitation. I've certainly improved
> my own skills by
> > examining drawings and photographs and trying to
> reproduce what I
> > see. I saved all of the responses to the recent
> question about
> > artistic process. Several of you mentioned working
> > photographs. How is that different? Or is it?
> I'd like to be
> > able to offer a different point of view to my
> teammates but I need
> > a better foundation. And I'm open to the
> possibility that my
> > instinct is wrong. Do you allow your students to copy
> as part of
> > the learning process? If not, why?
> > Andrea
> Woody, Retired in Albuquerque
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