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Lesson Plans

Re: tracing or copying

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Buerkle, Jennifer (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 16:19:00 -0400

I feel that copying is a necessary part of learning a craft. A
cabinet maker doesn't always generate his or her own design.
They begin by copying another's work. Only when they have
polished their craft can they move on to their own work.

When I was in a fashion design class, we had to buy a ream of
tracing paper and trace three figures from catalogs on every
single sheet. When I was done, I knew how to draw quick and
effective fashion figures. I was able to distort and stylize as
I grew intimately familiar with the correct proportions, which
the tracing exercise etched into my brain. Forever!

I teach a lot according to a model by Williams. (I teach visual
art to gifted kids and we have a whole OTHER set of hoops to jump
through!) It includes fluency (lots of ideas), flexibility (the
ability to change), originality (ideas that are unique) and
elaboration (being able to improve on the ideas of others). I
also know that many composers have elaborated, in their works, on
themes by others. It is completely accepted.

We don't live in a visual vacuum. We can't expect kids to
completely disregard the images they encounter that "belong" to
others. (including the kid sitting next to them) But we CAN
help them understand the difference between originality and

Jennifer Buerkle
Visual Arts Resource Teacher
The Academic Resource Center
Tallahassee, FL