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Lesson Plans

Re: Thoughts on Copying....

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Stenger - Judith DiSalvo (jstenger)
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 15:38:20 -0500 (EST)

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Hi Carolyn,
I agree completely. When I began teaching light years ago, I would
have had a tantrum over grid drawings, copying magazine photos, and the
like. Over time, I've become less of a purist. While the ideal would be
to draw only from one's own photos, that isn't realistic for most middle
school kids. When used as one of many drawing activities, copying from
photos can be a great way to learn about dividing the picture plane,
perspective, foreground, background, color mixing, value, and proportion.
If we are teaching kids to observe, drawing from a two dimensional photo
is a link toward looking at a three dimensional view and drawing it in two
I do have to say that I see this as a means to an end--certainly it
isn't original art--but one more way of learning to look. Students should
be made aware of this.
Also--I still
frown and even throw tantrums if kids copy drawings, paintings, etc. I
think there is a distinction. Photograph is certainly art, but I guess
drawings and paintings have a different degree of synthesizing. Surely
then we'd be talking about plagarism.
BTW--thanks to you and Bunki for the "Things they didn't tell you." I
used it to open my presentation in New Orleans, and EVERYONE could relate.

On Sun, 23 Mar 1997, Carolyn Roberts wrote:

> There are so many styles of LEARNING and the only way to try to reach
> ALL students is to use SEVERAL methods of teaching students to draw,
> which is what I try to do. I teach contour drawing, gesture drawing, how
> to measure when drawing faces, plus copying from a picture (magazine or
> whatever) using a grid....I try to use every
> method I can think of to reach my students. I also teach students "how
> to see" what's in front of them, but some will never "see" it, unless
> they actually see it drawn on paper for them. I teach middle school and
> I find that this age group has more difficulty drawing from their
> imagination, but I do not think this holds true for elementary students.
> 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.
> Carolyn

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