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Lesson Plans

Re: drawing as a skill

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
craig roland (rolandc)
Sun, 18 Jul 1999 21:40:56 -0400

Bob, Henry, Joseph, Sandra...and others:

I've wandered in and out of the discussion thread on drawing and may have
missed somthing along the way. If I'm repetetive here, I apologize.

It seems to me there are several aspects to this pervasive and perturbing
"problem" of teaching drawing in schools. . .many of which have been
discussed in this thread.

For me, drawing enters into my (university art education) classes in two
ways: (1) in working with non-art majors--mostly elementary education
majors; and (2) and in working with art majors who are seeking teacher
certification. I seldom encounter problems with art majors in drawing
because most have had considerable training in the area; but the group of
non-majors is another matter entirely. Their negative attitudes toward
having to draw in class are not unlike those often seen in middle school
and high school students (as well as in some younger kids).

I was struck by Henry's discussion regarding students' expectations and
willingness of "learn to draw." I do feel that when working with students
who have little academic training in drawing (in my case, non-majors) that
a large part of teaching them to draw is a motivational issue. They've got
to want to learn "how to draw." Otherwise your task as the teacher is near
Another significant aspect here is, of course, learning how to "see" or as
I put it "learning how to notice things" more. The hand-eye stuff is, in
my mind, secondary to these two factors and comes with practice.

While I don't personally subscribe to the belief that drawing is a
"right-brain" activity only, I do think that the work of Betty Edwards (and
before her Kimon Nicolaides in "The Natural Way to Draw") provides
excellent motivational strategies for encouraging and teaching drawing in
classrooms. These two authors should be required reading for anyone
wanting to teach art. Other authors/books worth a read include "Drawing
with Children" by Mona Brookes, "Teach Your Child to Draw" by Mia Johnson,
and "Teaching Children to Draw" by the Wilsons. I only mention these to
illustrate that we don't lack for teaching models in this area.

I think another issue here lies with how we present drawing in the
classroom--or how students perceive what drawing is about. It would
certainly appear that, in most cases, students assume that learning to
draw means learning to replicate things we see in the world
"realistically." However, in its simplist form, drawing consists of making
marks or leaving a trail on a surface. I wonder how students would react to
our drawing instruction if we used an artist like Cy Twombley as an
exemplar in class rather than the traditional Masters or illustrators too
often used?

I have massed a huge collection of students' drawings over the years and
often draw upon (no pun intended) these works to illustrate points and to
provide models for other students to learn from. Of all these "drawings,"
my favorites are the ones done by young children in the "scribbling stage."
As Lowenfeld once said "It is unfortunate that the very word 'scribble' has
negative connotations for adults." I feel we would all benefit (teachers
and students alike) if we looked upon drawing in a broad sense--one that
would include learning to make marks with different tools on different


CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
School of Art and Art History, FAC 302,
University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.
32611-5801. (352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax
new email address: rolandc