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Re: observational drawing-j.h/middle school

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From: Jancy & Mike Cossin (jmcossin_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 22 2003 - 08:09:46 PDT


I think the fear of drawing is based on past experience with teachers, parents, etc. If a parent tells their child that their strength is science and that they can't draw that is powerful. A teacher that gets frustrated and doesn't give a child any encouragement early on could set a mindset about art in general.
I realize that not all students will go into art. At the middle school level I feel that my job is to get them excited about it and give them some insight into what it is and how it affects the world. If they master some skills and feel a sense of accomplishment that fear starts to ebb away. For many students, this may be the last chance for them to actually take it and if they leave with a good outlook, they may support it later as adults.
I always ask students at the start of class "Who thinks they are pretty good in art?" (a smattering of hands go up) "Who thinks they stink?" (accompanied by giggling). "Who honestly wants to do well in this class?" (all hands usually raised). I then promise them that each person will learn something new and that many of them will do something in in the course of the class that they didn't think they could accomplish. A bit of a tall order, but it's the way it should be and I feel that if I can't do that in my 18 weeks with them that I'm not a good teacher. For instance, I had a student this year who HATED art. His drawings showed his developmental delay so that they were at an early elementary level in the 7th grade. Other kids teased him when he tried, so he didn't want to do anything. When he first met me in class he gave me attitude. After two days I said "I'm not going to quit trying to help you so why don't you work with me? I'm just holding up to the promise I made to you"(with
 a big grin) After a second I got a grin back. The other kids at his table jumped in to help/encourage at that point. Granted, his skills weren't that good, but he did improve over the course. In the spring I asked students to enter work in the evening of the arts. Instead of entering one, he entered two. His work clearly stood out as not as skillful as some, but when talking to me he had a lot of pride in what he'd done. I had also gave the kids a talk about not comparing their work to someone else's - to compare it to how they've done in the past to see improvement.
That night I saw him sneak up with his dad and show him the work. He was also playing in the band so I think that night was his big night. :) He also said he was signing up for art next year. Thanks for listening to me share. jancy
 
 
Patricia Knott <pknott@enter.net> wrote:
Bunki says
> At this middle school age this is what they really want to know how to
> do...draw correctly. The biggest hurdle I find is not the actually
> experience...it's getting them into the right mind frame beforehand to accept
> that it's a teachable skill. Saying "I can't" is a WHOLE lot easier than
> saying "I'll try".

Thank you Bunki for confirming what I said the other day about the middle school years as crucial in the development . This is a time when they really want to make it look real and I'm afraid we loose a lot of them during this time. They get so frustrated and the only way is as Bunki said 'step by step."

I think you need to consider the subject matter -- offer something they will be interested in drawing or ask them to contribute objects to draw (who cares how stupid the objects are if they want to draw them) Establish a wanting to draw first.

I've read dozens of drawing "how to's" and most of them start with line. I find line incredibly sophisticated. I prefer to start with form, volume and mass. I like to have my kids create simple sculptures and then draw them. They feel the form and mass first they make a connection they own it then the translation to 2-D if they know how to feel it the seeing gets easier..

Bunki offers some great advice "getting them into the right mind frame beforehand " and trying to alleviate fear step by step

I wish we could get past making things look "real." I much prefer cockeyed perceptions and I'm beginning to believe we can bypass all the traditions to get to the new. I'm very confused as to where art is going and I think it is well time to get beyond locking kids into thinking they have to be able to draw in order to be artists. Observation can be achieved in many ways and if our standards are based on 500 year old Renaissance ideals I think we all have a lot to think about. I'm not sure I care about drawing anymore but I always care about observing

What is the fear of drawing all about?
Patty---

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