Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Re: Monart drawing techinques (fwd)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Ruth Voyles (rvoyles)
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 20:06:33 -0500 (EST)

I read this post and had to respond. I have read both books by Mona
Brookes concerning her method of teaching drawing. I think that many of
us probably use some of her basic methods in teaching drawing, without
even realizing that we do. For example, she identifies several types of
lines and shapes, and presents these as the foundation for drawing. I
have even my elemetary students looking for the basic shapes and or/forms
that compose objects. These shapes then become the beginning framework
for drawing the objects themselves.
I am not trained to teach using the Monart method of instruction, so
I can't say definitively that the method and result you describe being
used in your school system is NOT the Monart method. However, it does
not sound like the techniques described by Brookes in her books.
Nowhere in these texts did I get the impression that she advocated
modeling for students how to draw each of the lines and shapes for each
object until the students all had the same basic recognizable object.
What is creative about that?
That sounds like the same cookie cutter art that many have decried
over the last few days on this list. What Brookes DOES advocate is
teaching children to draw. In other words, giving them drawing
instruction, like teaching them to look for, identify and draw the
basic shapes. Or teaching children shading and/or modeling techniques,
perspective devices, etc. I know that this particular topic has in the past
been somewhat controversial, as some feel that this stifles the child's
creativity and is contrary to the child's natural developmental stages in

Perhaps this issue still is controversial and others on this list could
speak to it? I would be interested in such a discussion.
What do you think?

Ruth Voyles
Art Educator
The Toledo Museum of Art
The University of Toledo

On Friday, October 11, 1996 ELENI53 wrote:

> Dear Friends,
> After reading the comments on "cookie-cutter" Pumpkins and fall themes
> donning the elementary halls, I'd like to pose a question that irks and at
> the same time intrigues (sp?) me.... that is teaching Monart drawing in K-5th
> grade.
> For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is based on drawing techniques from
> Mona Brookes.... Our school district has jumped on this band wagon as an art
> instruction panacea..... as we have no art specialists in elementary (well,
> one out of 11 schools does)
> Essentially, the students follow the instruction of the teacher, repeating
> the lines and shapes and eventually, everyone comes out with a drawing that
> actually looks like what it's supposed to be. The teachers think they're
> teaching art, the kids think they can draw, and the parents have something to
> put on the frige that they can identify.
> Imagine walking down halls where every drawing is essentially the same as the
> others... and you understand the part that irks me....
> What intrigued me is something which happened after I visited the schools in
> the district in an Artist in Residence capacity. One school in particular,
> which had this training for 5 years (about 2 hours per week), had students
> which I found could not think and create on their own.....For example, I was
> teaching fifth-graders a lesson on Block Printing... They were to draw a
> simple design on tag board, cut it out and paste it on mat board...then we
> were going to print from these paper "blocks". I gave them ideas (a house, a
> tree, an animal) of things to draw...I demonstrated with my own materials...
> I showed them a completed block... From these 5th-graders I GOT BLANK STARES
> and comments such as "I can't draw" or "show me how to draw a ______" I found
> that they, even after 5 years of Monart, could not come up with an original
> idea... I concluded that it was because they had no one to spoon-feed them
> the instruction.... "first you draw this line here, then this next line goes
> here, etc" This is what intrigued me... I wanted to write to Mona Brookes and
> tell her what I saw happening.
> I think it (Monart) would be a good program for older students 6-12, because
> they can understand the connection of seeing and replicating on their own.
> Younger kids can follow directions as they are given, but when the instructor
> is gone, they revert back to their comfort level and draw as children their
> age...
> Have any of you experienced this or know what I'm talking about?
> 'Leni