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RE: [teacherartexchange] Learning by copying?


From: Peshette, Alix (apeshette_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Aug 22 2008 - 15:29:59 PDT

I totally agree about drawing from observation. When I was teaching 7th
grade art, we had drawing warm-ups. I taught how to draw and shade
ribbons by reeling off lengths of cash register tape (found at thrift
stores) and had student set the tape up on edge on the group table.
They looked carefully and drew the contours and then shaded areas.
Another warm-up involved destroying a foam cup (a BIG favorite with
junior high). Each student got to break a piece of the cup and then
arrange the pieces as a still life in the middle of the table for a
one-minute quick draw. The cup and pieces were then passed to the next
student. Everyone got a chance to destroy the cup - they loved it. We
also brought students' bikes into the classroom, put them up on the
tables and everyone had to draw the bike from the view that they got -
very challenging. For a Dia de los Muertos project, we borrowed the
skeleton from the science department, put it up on a table and had a
student get in a dance pose with the skeleton which we all drew.
Ah...those were the days. The only thing I don't miss was scraping up
crushed oil pastels from the dang carpet in our portable classroom!


Alix E. Peshette
Instructional Technology Coordinator
Placer County Office of Education
360 Nevada St.
Auburn, CA. 95603 USA

"Technology - opening minds with a new set of keys"

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-----Original Message-----
From: Woody Duncan []
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2008 3:18 PM
To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group
Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] Learning by copying?

As I remember a very good assignment in a college design class back in
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 observation).

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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