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I have also read both of Mona Brookes books and have used a few of her
techniques in my middle school program on and off. Some regular classroom
teachers have told me they gained alot of self-confidence in their drawing
skills taking her classes. I have not taken any of the Monart School
classes so I also can't speak to that. I have often wondered just how they
are taught, however. A few years ago I was using her basic elements of
shape approach before delving into a pen and ink, visual-textured project
but now I'm finding that by doing the project first, the students can
discover themselves what these basic shapes are and can "pull" them from
their pen and ink artwork in discussions. I like this approach much better.
They always cover the basics without knowing it.
I have also used one of her methods of drawing the face and using the
pencil to actually "measure" the student's face and prove that features are
REALLY where they are suppose to be..especially the side view. HOWEVER,
I've noticed that when we do one "together", it works and they "see" how it
all fits. But when they delve into another project and a few weeks past,
they revert back to what has always worked before in their 12-13 yr. life
span....which is eyes in the forehead! (Just like you noticed, Leni) I had
always done this unit before masking making in gauze strips.....but this
year I tried something different....painting HUGE African masks in 2D
(18x24)...no holds barred in creativity and I'm already feeling the gauze
masks are going to be uniquely (sp?) special this year!!! Maybe this
approach is just too structured for my age group after all....though I've
always felt that any project you give a middle schooler, they can handle.
So far, they've always proved me right and given me fantastic stuff!!!
I guess my most favorite Monart thing is using her small rectangles full of
different non-objective shapes and have the students reconstruct them on
another sheet of paper. By looking at something non-objective, they don't
get hung up on drawing what they "think" is there (and it isn't), but
drawing only the lines that are there and how it relates to the whole. This
has been the most successful technique I've used...not in being "creative"
but in learning drawing skills and seeing parts to whole. It has made a
difference in my draw-ers (as opposed to my bloomers!).
I do not care for the perspective drawing approach...I like my own better.
I guess it just depends on each teacher and what works for her/him ("her"
always goes first, hee, hee) in the classroom. Her books are a good
starting point for a beginning teacher with little resources and experience
to have something to test. Now, everyone...don't jump on me at once!!!!!
I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has taken one of her courses
and how you would rate its effectiveness...and if anyone else has used her
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Road
Danville, California 94526