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Re: Drawing with Children - Mona Brookes


From: Stephen Wood (steve_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Mar 10 2002 - 12:14:00 PST

on 10/3/02 3:05 pm, at wrote:

> Does anyone else ever feel conflicted between using Brooks techniques and
> Drawing on the Right side of the Brain techniques VS comprehensive art
> education?

I'm really lucky, in that I present art to children in the form of after
school art clubs for 5-10 year olds. My wife and I attend five different
schools per week and have about 25 children at each club. Because it is an
art club and not part of the school day we are well removed from having to
follow any sort of curriculum. This allows us to be really flexible in how
we present art to the children and what sort of work to accept back. Now, in
less conciencous hands this could mean providing absolutley no art
experience whatsoever and settling for whatever we get. however, we really
believe in what we do and are determined to persue every avenue in getting
the children to produce meaningful art.

Betty edwards book Drawing from the right hand side of the brain really
inspired me in the beggining. I went to a Japanese web site that showed
children as young as 5 producing Aestetically excellent work. I got the book
and geared our art clubs around the exercises shown in the book. The problem
was that the children were not really enjoying themselves. The pressure I
was putting on them to produce "adult" work was far removed from their
expressive needs. Even if a child managed to produce work that I was happy
with, I often found that they were not.

Viktor Lowenfelds "Creative and Mental Growth" changed our art clubs
completely. Now we concentrate on getting children to create art from their
experiences and providing experiences for children to use as motivation. At
the last art club, those that wanted made kites (those that didn't had their
own motivation or maybe not, we have the luxury of not having to get work
out of kids if they don't want to do it). However, the experience I wanted
everyone to have was the flying of kites, to me the making was secondary.
The following week we used this kite flying experience as motivation for art
work. I have a plan for everyone to tie lables to Helium filled balloons and
release them. I will ask the children to focus on where they think the
balloon may end up and who will find it.

So my point is; for me personally "Method" books I'm vary wary of,
especially a the age level I am involved with. I think they miss out on what
ART is. I think it's wrong to assume that children are unhappy with their
technique and that they need to be taught how to draw. But putting our own
anxieties onto children we run the risk of disabling them. The big debate
for us in the U.K. was the Turner Prize, awarded to an artist that had a
light going on and off in an empty room. If you went to the exhibition and
saw it, you couldn't help being moved. There was no technique.