I feel at times that a picture file is very important. At
>other times I wonder if the kids would be more imanaginative if I didn't
>stress realistic all the time.
I feel students can best learn to draw by observing the world around
them. By observation, students can see all the elements and principles of
design at work. This makes something that can be abstract and confusing
(creating art), more concrete. When students practice creating lines,
shapes, values, textures, forms,etc. from life, they then have a visual
vocabulary that they can "draw from" when they try to communicate their
imaginative, creative vision. You will notice that a group of people
"realistically" drawing the same exact thing will have very different
results, their creative vision is still there.
On the issue of picture files, you can't always have the real thing,
when searching for a starting point, or supporting details for your work, a
picture is the next best thing. I needed dogs for my surreal, narrative
paintings this past summer, they supported my concept. I had never drawn
dogs before, so I needed pictures. BTW, even though I had never drawn dogs,
I know HOW TO DRAW from obsevation, so I could do it. I did not copy, I
used the pictures for details, bone-structure, musculature.....Anyway,
artists must learn to draw, in my opinion.