I tried something new today in one of my drawing classes that had just
begun doing still lifes. I have some naturally talented students, but
the rest are just learning some skills and are of average or lower
ability levels . I decided that for their first still life I would only
put one object on the table at a time. With the first piece we
discussed proportion and how to "measure things visually". After they
had drawn the first object, I added a second. Again, we discussed how
to compare the proportion of height and width and the negative space
between the objects. They would simply erase the lines when things
would overlap each other. I continued to add pieces this way until we
had nine objects or more. To say the least - I was amazed at their
success. Their drawings that were done in this way were 100x better
than drawings done any other way that I have tried. I had them do a
second drawing in the same manner - success again. The next class - I
displayed a still life as a whole and told them to use the same
principles they had applied before. They were able to do this with ease
and accuracy. Now we are working with value and adding that to the
still lifes done with line only.
Students who had done still lifes in other classes commented on how
much easier it was to start out this way. "It is not as overwhelming,"
they said. I have had very few complaints about still lifes thus far
compared to the whining I have had in previous courses. I have had such
a positive experience teaching still lifes this way that I wanted to
share it you. Hope it helps in some way.