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Re: [teacherartexchange] Learning by copying?


From: Woody Duncan (woodyduncan_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Aug 22 2008 - 15:17:58 PDT

As I remember a very good assignment in a college design class back
in 1962.
Our assignment had four parts. We took a section of a photo from a
And as I remember it:
First: grid and carefully copy the image exactly as it is.
Second: do an impressionist interpretation of the image.
Third: create a cubist interpretation of the image.
Fourth: distort the shapes and colors for an original interpretation.

This is one example of how copying fits in the art curriculum. I
always walked a balance
in teaching middle school students. We used photos as resources when
we had little
choice, ie: animals, olympic athletes, etc. But more often we used
real objects to draw
from. There is no better way to train the eye and learn to draw than
drawings done from
observation. Students need to understand why this is so and be
encouraged to draw
the 3-D world from observation. In our culture artists are expected
to be creative and
work to develop original ideas. Being original need not be seen as
abstract or realistic.
One can be very creative and still work very realistically. But I'd
strongly argue that
even the artist who wants to work very abstractly or in a non-
objective manner needs
to have a strong academic art training (meaning drawing from

Some copying has it's place but it can become a crutch if a student
is not careful.

On Aug 22, 2008, at 3:35 PM, Peshette, Alix wrote:

> Hi,
> This might be heresy, but I think copying has its place in art
> education. I used copying to teach an oil pastel lesson on
> gridding and
> enlarging a visually appealing food image from magazines. The students
> enlarged their images onto 18"x12" drawing paper and used the food
> advertisement to blend and match colors. This was a 2-3 week
> project for
> 7th graders, but the results were often dazzling. Years later,
> students
> and parents used to tell me that they still had the pictures.
> -Alix

Woody, Retired in Albuquerque

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