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Lesson Plans


Re: Copying

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henry (taylorh)
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 16:00:18 -0700 (MST)

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Any ideas about how much of this discussion on copying is coming from
assumptions that what is important is delineation as "Fine Art"?

I'm interested in art. I used to be pretty exclusively into "fine art"
because that's where all the status is supposed to be. I also bought into
the notion that i was supposed to be doing "Original work". Well, it
became so original that most galleries hereabouts had no idea what to
do with it. I got a lot of enthusiastic noises about color and emotional
impact... it just didn't look like anything they had ever sold before.

At the moment I'm looking deeper into art education and writing more than
doing art, also going back to my earlier interests in the art of
indigenous or "small scale societies"

Issues surrounding copying don't seem to be much of a problem from here.
In terms of simple representation a photocopy is useful in aquiring a
"flat" eye. That is, being able to see things, which are in fact three
dimensional, as if they were merged into a plane.

Given my druthers I'd have my kids drawing or actually tracing on plexiglas
with one eye covered up just so they could get the idea that they could
under some circumstances succeed in achieving a better representation
than they imagine they can or than they have previously.

Too many kids come in ready to "draw what they know" or draw things using
the imagined and simplified conventions that are, for them, what things look
like. A millenia ago survival might have depended on accurately seeing
things. Today a quick mental snapshot through whatever distortions arise
is usually considered enough. A while back I was looking at drawings from
(I think) the twenties or thirties of indigenous children from the
russsian forest lands. VERY well drawn as long as they drew things like
cariboo (sp?) Move them over to drawing things that they had no
experience of but had only seen and their skill fell back to typical for
their age.

So, it is important to see the real things to be drawn. But not
necesarily in the context of drawing. Kids in american schools spend more
time seeing with their heads than with their eyes. They seem to have massive
libraries of imagery in their heads which collapse when they try to move
them onto paper. It can be a very frustrating experience. And for some it
can turn them off to art. When I started teaching I was amazed at how
many kids would come up and tell me in some way that they were not
artists nor would they ever have a serious relationship to art. In the
SECOND grade, they were positive, they KNEW! That was frustrating for me.
It was also why I decided to formalize my status as an art teacher.

Copying is useful for some qualities in drawing or in the application of
shading or color. Its especially useful in a culture with such a stylized
way of "seeing".

-henry


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