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RE: Re: Visual Culture & Students


Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 22:46:24 PDT

>I've been playing all year with teaching a generailzed set of
>conventions along the lines of the Aztec codexes
>this sounds interesting - giving the students additional visual
>'vocabultary' for their artwork. Could you explain in greater detail?

Maybe it's some where in each culture's medieval stage. I'm not sure. but around the world you can assemble a collection of line interestingly similar images Aztec codexes, Medieval European drawings, Shogunate era Japanese block prints, and as I was writing before I recalled how some of my kids faces looked like the heavily scripted Buddhist images of the Buddha.

They are all "conventional" in that it is not drawing from what is seen but from an internalized set of conventions. If you look at what the kids come in drawing like and the similar elements you can see an existing set of conventions that they are already following.

I thought I'd see if I could switch them over to a better developed set of equally simple conventions.

The basic Eye in this experimental convention is

          = = =
      = == ===== =
  = == ====== =
= ==== ======== =
Other than the reflection this convention is pretty common cross-culturally. The upper eyelashes are more visible than the lower in most people. In a small drawing this becomes a letter "T" eye as in T T
with the eyelash arch cross bar on the "T" showing a slight arch.

the REFLECTION is as much a part of the eyeball as the pupil. Reflections and shadows are properties of objects equal to color and shape. I work on teaching that perception from kindergarten on.

Nose/mouth convention is at its simplist kinda like:


          == ==


Notice that your upper lip CAN'T smile just the lower and here you only see the shadow line where the lips meet and of the lower lip. Bothe ends of the mouth line are typically a litle darker and sometimes so is the very center. We don't show a line around the lips because one isn't visible and what we see is a color change.

Fit it into an inverted egg make sure the eyes are in the middle (not at the top of the head) and you've got the conventional face

as for the body with the little kids its enough that they include knees and elbows

The generic convention for a hand is a mitten with lines drawn between the fingers Feet are harder to explain in text and ansi graphics.

We cover Egyptian style uper torso frontality / lower limb profile as an option. play with it and see if we think it works for us. Contrast this with Greek black figure pottery images which are often straight profile.

The conventions are all right there. I just tried to merge them into a uniform and generic variation.

For the black figure unit we cut out a Trova-like head and torso in profile as well as pairs of arms and legs from photocopies and paste them into poses
arms and legs come in 3 variations full extension, 90 degree bend and +/- 135 degree partial extention. You can approximate many greeek poses from this. Then we take a terra cotta crayon rubbing from the pasted image and go on to develop our black-figure scene from this. The idea is to become aware as were the greeks (but not so much the egyptians)that muscles cause our limbs to expand and contract in predictable places like biceps and wrists.

Its all pretty much of an experiment at this point.

1 its not the most direct way to teach perception-based drawing kind of backwards for that. But 2 it does attempt to mimic the process of child drawing already in place dependence on conventions and images trapped in the head.

 I find it interesting because the use of generic conventions would seem to reflect a construction of abstract conceptions. Kids do not seem naturally to do the look-draw exercise and in fact seem to resent it as an intrusion into how they do draw. Anyway its what I'm playing with.

Anyways I hope this unsequenced and quick pastishe isn't too unintelligible


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