Jean Gallagher wrote:
> I need some easy, full proof, lessons where the kids feel
> successful. All I hear is "I want to draw (better) not all this other
> stuff you have been doing." We have done still lifes, shading
> exercises, gesture drawing, contour drawing, some painting projects (I
> thought they would like that-NOT!) mixing shades, tints, how to enlarge
> using graphs.
> I am mentally exhausted trying to figure out how, what, and how to
> get to these kids.
Gee, it sounds like you're already doing a lot to help them learn to
draw better. They need to understand that things they may find "boring"
(practicing shading techniques or the same layup at basketball practice)
lead to better skills in the long run. Maybe you could break up the
lessons in even smaller increments, allowing them to put to use right
away a skill you just taught them. Say, after learning cross-hatching,
stippling, and tonal shading techniques, they can replicate the values
they see in a photocopy, using appropriate techniques. (I find that
beginners often can't distinguish the values in real objects, as the
color seems to distract them; the photocopy breaks down the object into
a range of values they can easily see. After that, they can work on a
real object in front of them.)
Learning one and two point perspective motivates my students. I teach
them on an overhead projector, in a very controlled,
one-baby-step-at-a-time way, as there is such a range of learning
abilities in my classes. We do the basic boxes to start, then their
initials, which they color in, then on to a corner of the classroom, and
finally out in the hallways. Perspective drawing is very mechanical and
nearly foolproof, once they learn the basics.
Drawing or painting surrealistically might perk them up. Give them some
ordinary object (I use ice cream cones) as a starting point and let them
use their imagination to transform it. They can either come up with a
different use for it (while still making it look like the cone) or place
it in an unusual setting. Here they can put to use a lot of the skills
you've taught them. Their own shoes are fun to do, too.
Whatever you do, don't allow the students to dictate the curriculum to
you. Follow your instincts about what they need to and should learn in
a well-rounded art curriculum. If they are "bored," they are probably
bored with the rest of their lives, too; it's often the nature of the
beast. And what consequences are there when they're tardy or refuse to
work? Part of becoming an adult is to suck it up and do what needs to
be done. Good luck.