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Lesson Plans

Re: is this what the groups attitude is?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Roseau (mikelr)
Mon, 19 Oct 1998 10:28:33 -0500

This is my first post. I have never taught art to young children, but I
have taught Illustration, life drawing and various techniques classes in
adult extension and continuing ed classes in several colleges, including
the Rhode Island School of Design. I teach only part time - generally one
class per semester. Occasionally I also teach drawing seminars for adults
working in visual communications. The rest of the time I work as an
illustrator - design, advertising and children's publishing:

my work can be seen at

My observation is that certification is relatively meaningless. What counts
is the instructor's ability and his capacity to connect with students.
There are no objective standards for art, anyway, so certification is in
itself somewhat arbitrary. I would even say that many lousy teachers hide
behind their certification.

This is purely anecdotal, but when I went to art school (University of
Michigan 1975) there were only one or two instructors that were worth a
damn - and even they were a little out of touch with reality. It wasn't
until I started working in an animation studio that I was exposed to ideas
and attitudes that gave me a sense of what it required to be a professional

I strongly believe that inculcating objective standards for drawing - even
at a very early age - should be an essential part of art instruction. I
always thought that my sons' art classes spent far too much time on
crafts-y goofing around than on deveolping real drawing skills.

My absolute favorite show for art instruction - and an approach I've
actually used for adults - was Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. He took definite
concepts - shapes, foreshortening, overlapping, etc - and gave the kids
specific drawing exercises. Children love to actually learn HOW to do
something, and this concept of providing concrete infoprmation has been
quite absent in most art programs for children that I've been familiar

I have come in to do demonstrations for my sons' art classes. I would do
ask the kids to tell me what to draw, then I would use simple shapes to
construct the objects they suggested. I told them that by using simple
shapes you could draw anything. They were always amazed that any object
could be analysed interms of its interior geometry and rendered without
benefit of a model. Invariably, the art teacher would tell me later that it
had a transformative effect on the way the children approached their

In any case, I would make drawing the central, and perhaps even the only
preoccupation in an art class of young children.


Mike Reed

>I sent a message out about an art club I created for students where I work
>today. I am a new member to this group and I got a response saying the
>following: (name excluded from the text out of respect for privacy)
><no offense , i'm glad your an artist but I'm tired of being solicited
>for help from NON-certified art instructors..... I COULD HAVE GOTTEN OUT
>OF SCHOOL A LOT QUICKER had I not taken those 30 hours of pesky art
>methods classes. There are plenty of good books out there-buy some and
>then read them.
>I apologize for asking for help. I can understand people not wanting to help,
>but geez I think a simple sorry this is not the proper email list for this
>would have sufficed. I am disgusted by this emails attitude, not by the
>unwillingness to comment on my question, that is no problem at all.
>I may not be a certified art instructor, excuse me, but I am doing a damn good
>job at it, and I don't appreciate the insult. A simple no would have
>sufficed. I won't bother the group again with my questions.