What a great post, Larry!
I have been reading these posts and want to add my two cents, too.
I get the best results by relying on the teachings of the book, "Drawing
on the Right Side of the Brain", by Betty Edwards. It was a
breakthrough for my own understanding of drawing when I read it after
college. I tell my children not to name what they are drawing, as the
very nameing of something brings stereotypical images to mind. When you
say, "I can't draw this HAND!" your left brain automatically tries to
help and take over by supplying a symbol of a hand that you learned was
a "safe" way to draw a hand when you were young. For me, it's a flat
hand with a thumb on the side, four fingers pointing up. That is "hand"
in my brain if I say the word, "hand". Instead, we as educators need to
teach them to see what's really there, and give them "tricks and
gimmicks", as I call it, to be able to circumvent this left brain
activity. The ways to do that are:
1. DESCRIBE what you are looking at, without naming it. Words like
bigger than, smaller than, above, below, beside, gets lighter, darker,
curving slightly, zigzagging, S-Curve, intersecting line, right angle,
etc. are the language of description.
2. Draw what you see. Draw overlapping things first. Show them that
the base of a tree, or feet, or wheels on a car, etc. placed near the
bottom of the page indicate that those things are closer than ohers that
have ther feet, bases, wheels, etc. higher on the page.
3. Ratio and proportion and direction must be analyzed as you draw what
you see. Ratio and proportion can be taught easily by using the first
part of something drawn as the measuring stick to draw everything else
to scale. For example, if drawing a house, I always tell students to
start with a door or a window. Once that is drawn, look back at the
house you are drawing and measure how many doors tall the house is. This
is oft times easier to do in monovision...close one eye so you don't see
double when you hold up your fingers or a pencil to measure how tall the
house is. Then you can go back to your paper and measure your drawn
door, and repeat that scale up the paper until you have marked how tall
your house will need to be. Do the same for width and whatever else you
need to know, such as how many doors long the sidewalk is.
4. Keep your eye more on what you are observing, and let your eye lead
your hand where it needs to go. If your eye follows a contour line up
at an angle towards 2:00, then your hand follows, trusting your eye to
tell it where to go. Blind contour drawings are the best way to break
the ice to loosen up and get this eye leading the hand idea across to
them. Hmmm..perhaps these are the First thing to do with them! I tell
my students to imagine a clock around their pencil point all the time.
Whenever you need to figure out an angle or change in direction, imagine
that your last mark on the page is the center of a clock. Look at where
you now need to go as if heading off from your last mark towards 2:00,
3:45, 8:00, etc. (The numbers on the clock.) A compass could
accomplish the same thing with direction changes and understanding how
to translate them to drawing.
5. Explain negative space to them. Betty Edwards says sometimes it is
easier to draw the space between objects because we are forced to look
and describe it....there is no "name" for negative space. It must be
analyzed, which eliminates the stereotypical drawings that happen when
we draw our safe symbols that have nothing to do with what something
actually looks like. Another interesting thing she has as an exercise
is to turn something upside down to remove the stereotypical "seeing"
that can take over in the brain, preventing the real seeing.
6. Transferring angles is easy if you close one eye and look at what
you are trying to draw. Hold your pencil in the air covering the angle
you wish to draw. Without twisting your wrist, drop your pencil to your
paper, and the way your pencil lies on your page will show you your
angle. Of course, you must be facing the object head on with your paper
right in front of you for this to work.
There is more that I could write about, unfortunately, my keyboard
batteries in my webtv are about to croak. Read the book..it has helped
me to explain "how to look, see, and draw" to children for about 20