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Drawing In London

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gregjuli_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Tue Oct 10 2000 - 15:34:44 PDT


Hi all,

My sisiter in California sent me this interesting article. Have any of
you read it before?
MaryB

By GRAHAM HEATHCOTE
c The Associated Press

LONDON - Attention-getting young British artists like Tracey Emin, who
exhibited her unmade bed, and Damien Hirst, who pickles dead animals,
may
have done fine without studying how to draw the human figure.

But members of an older generation of artists, such as David Hockney,
Maggie
Hambling and Peter Blake, insist the centuries-old life drawing
tradition is
crucial for any artist.

The Royal Academy of Arts, which has taught drawing since its founding
in
1768, contends the exercise can play a powerful part in the development
of
young people's creativity.

For the past 11 years, the academy's Outreach Program has taught drawing
by
taking live models to some 40,000 children in British schools, from
Shetland
in the north to the Channel Islands in the south.

''I love children's drawings and I have many in my hall at home,'' said
Phillip King, a sculptor recently elected the academy's president.
''Outreach
is an opportunity for the young to enrich the quality of their lives.''

The program sends men and women models to schools for a day to pose
nude. As
many as 30 students form a circle around the models in a large open
space
and
work on the floor with charcoal and large sheets of paper, drawing what
they
see.

The workshops are led by artist-graduates from the Royal Academy schools
and
the models have been through dance and drama training to be able to give

their poses a forceful quality. The models don't remain in one position
for
hours, but take up several poses to communicate the dynamics of the
human
form.

''Big spaces and large sheets encourage children to be more aggressive
in
drawing. Charcoal is more physical than pencil. It gets the hands dirty
and
makes an immediate impression. It's very flexible and very forgiving,''
said
Jo Butler, an artist who works in the program.

The academy recently displayed at its Piccadilly building in central
London
more than 150 children's drawings from Outreach in a show called
''Alive.''

One of the exhibitors, 11-year-old James Zhao from Dagenham in east
London,
said life drawing isn't easy.

''I've drawn my father at home, but drawing the woman model was a bit
difficult - especially the arm and the leg, the fingers and the shape of
the
hand. I liked discovering how to do it. I like drawing as a hobby,'' he
said.

The show took its title from a remark by a child at a workshop:
''I felt challenged to produce an 'alive' drawing rather than a life
drawing.''

''That expressed what Outreach is fundamentally about,'' said Peter
Feroze,
a
former student at the academy schools and a founder-member of the
program.

Lorna Smith, the model drawn by Zhao and his classmates, said a key
objective
of the program is to encourage youngsters to think about what they see
and
how they draw it, asking questions like, 'Is this what I see?' and 'Are
there
different ways of seeing?'

''The development of curiosity is an essential part of education, since
it
benefits all areas of human activity and helps prepare the young for an
independent life,'' Smith said.

''The mind has to invent, take risks, consider alternatives and be
prepared
to learn from failure along the way. Life drawing is a learning
experience.

''Children are shocked at first to see a nude model but the embarrassing

giggles soon die down - in seconds - and the accepting nature of a group
is
quite astonishingly quick. By lunchtime you would think they had been
drawing
the nude for most of their lives,'' she said.

Recognition of the program's value of the program is indicated in the
variety
of its sponsors - in turn, an oil company, a bank and a Japanese health
food
company.

It was John Ruskin, the most influential art critic of Victorian times
and
himself highly skilled in drawing, who said that when once we see keenly

enough, there's very little difference in drawing what we see.

This year is the centennial of Ruskin's death and he is very much back
in
fashion, with exhibitions and lectures about him in Britain and the
United
States.

The academy show coincided with the launch of ''Drawing Power,'' a
national
campaign for drawing by the Guild of St. George, founded by Ruskin to
promote
his ideas. It seeks to get everyone interested in learning how to draw -
not
just children.

''We know from ancient art in caves that man has been drawing ever since
he
came to Europe and we want to see drawing more valued in education. We
want
to see everyone leaving school being able to draw and knowing the
basics,''
said Julian Spalding, the guild's master.

On Oct. 21, more than 500 galleries and museums in Britain will sponsor
drop-in sessions for adults and children to draw with artists,
designers,
mathematicians and campaign patrons. The sessions will be supported with

displays of fine art, and technical and scientific drawings from local
collections.

''In the multicolored digital age, drawing with pencil, chalk or ink is
easily neglected,'' says a campaign statement. ''Artists, architects,
scientists, designers and teachers recognize that the most original
ideas
are
often generated through the direct action of the hand, from thumbnail
sketches to final visions.''