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When my students are working on a lesson where copying is involved (the
grid enlargement), I explain the reason that we ARE "copying" and not
drawing on our own. I do stress that this is just a "learning method"
and they should NOT rely on this type of drawing...
Some students may possibly ONLY learn by copying and this has been a
practice throughout history. I find that students will copy what they
see WHILE it's in front of them, but when it's not there and as they
practice on their own, their own style begins to form. No matter what
the opinion is on copying, students are going to do it...they copy each
other's drawings that they like all the time.
I have a student that I have had for four years. This student has been
drawing (copying) from comic books "forever"...but in class when we
would have a lesson drawing from "real life" (still life setup)...the
student would have difficulty drawing it. BUT this year I can really
see a difference in his drawing from life. He has been focusing on
portraits and his skills are great...there is no way that COPYING hurt
this student in any way and, in fact, I feel that the copying that he
has done has greatly improved his "seeing" (drawing skills)...after all,
that's what drawing actually is...
I do feel that a "steady diet of copying" would NOT help a student
develop self-confidence in his/her own drawing skills, but I certainly
do feel that "copying" has it's place in teaching of art, especially at
the middle school level. At this age, they know whether their drawings
look "correct" or not and if they do not develop a sense of
self-confidence about their drawing skills, you can rest assure they
will not continue to draw after this.