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Lesson Plans

Re: Copying in art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Maggie White (mwhite)
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 18:34:18 -0800

Sharon L. Hill wrote:

> Do you allow or encourage your students to use previously published
> images? Why or why not?

We work a lot from photographs. I stress drawing from direct
observation, which is not always practical; I tell them photos are the
next best thing. However, they look at _several_ sources--not just
one--to get an overall view of the subject. I do not encourage them to
directly copy a single photograph. The idea is to do what professional
artists do: from a variety of sketches or sources, they cobble together
their own interpretation.

They do not copy non-photographic art.

> Do you think this practice benefits the student? In what way?

Yes; I do an exercise the first day of class on Conception (their idea of
what something looks like) vs. Perception (actual observation of an
object). This drives home the fact that they are often drawing symbols
for things, rather than what the object really look like. From there,
they can draw realistically or begin to experiment with stylizing or

Also, beginning students have a lot of difficulty rendering values from
real objects or colored photos, so I give them B&W photocopies to help
them see the range of values and textures possible.
> Does it harm the art student? How?

Occasionally a student will use the photograph idea as an excuse to copy
directly rather than using it as just one resource; they deliberately
misinterpret my instructions and make a fuss when I refuse to accept the
work, claiming that I approve of this practice.

Otherwise, no, I don't believe that it's harmful to their development;
they are still learning to observe.

> Should student art works based on copied sources be allowed in student
> exhibitions or competitions? Why or why not?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Those are the work of another artist and should not be
used no matter how faithful the student rendering was. The only
exception is if they are using something like Mona Lisa as the starting
point for, say, a satirical piece or collage.