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Re: more on contour drawing


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Sep 01 2002 - 08:28:25 PDT

Subject: more on contour drawing
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 21:59:06 EDT
> Any middle school/jr. high teacher have any good suggestions for the
> right exercises and the right progression?>
> mike sacco
> new to jr. high

I begin always, and nearly any grade from middle on up...with blind contour
line exercises; and the main reason is not that I'm after the students
producing hangable work but to build a foundation on why I will insist on
focus and less talking, less shananagins in art class.

I tell them about the two halves of the brain. One being like that big
older bossy brother or sister, the right half being the younger. The right
half having the gifts, but the left half thinking they know it all!

I then tell them, if they think I'm kidding, they are about to be introduced
to their older sibbling! I tell them they will be sensing and hearing
demands from this authoritarian to break the rules I will be setting down,
and to look down at their progress. I tell them that this voice, the
"existence" of this other person being in their head will be best proven if
they resist and continue to do the exercise as I request.

I assure them that we will not be hanging the results in the hall for all to

Then, I have them simply put their non-drawing hand's arm & elbow to rest on
a larger sheet of paper. Large newsprint is good. I have them position
their hand in the air in front of the eyes, then look down only once to
position their pencil. Then I instruct them to be like an etch'O Sketch and
allow their pencil to move ONLY when their eyes move...and that the eyes
should move VERY SLOWLY around the edges (ie, the "contour") of their hand.
To include the creases of the knuckles, the fingers, and shape of the finger

After, I ask for a show of hands of all those that can honestly say they did
not look down once? Twice? Three times?

Then I ask them how many could internally hear that obnoxious insisting
voice in their heads demanding to look down and see the drawing?

From there, I explain that the left brain is not equipped to draw and
carries no intuitive natural ability for it. It must analyze everything
according to rules, and "judge"....

I tell them the right brain is much better equipped for recognizing shape,
form, line, etc., and that as young artists we have to learn ways to stifle
or shut down interference from the left brain.

I let them know that for years, their left brain has been talking them out
of any belief of doing well in art, and that I am going to teach them some
tricks that will allow this innate ability to come out. Comparing the
lulling of the left brain to sleep during the reading of a book, and how the
hours will simply fly past as the creative right brain gets absorbed into
the story....I explain we must entice or lull the left brain off to La La
Land...but that that dastardly older sibbling of a brain half has a few
tricks of its own! The biggest and most common trick is to use
"DISTRACTION".... which then never requires it to sleep, and never lets the
right brain take over.

We discuss what those distractions might be? Such as- giggling,

I emphasize since I've been hired to teach and grade progress in art, that
whenever the left brain and its dastardly deeds is running the roost for
them....I have very little from the right brain's side of the deal to grade.
I let them know...that I am hear to grade their right brain's progress.

This has to be emphasized again and again....and after awhile, a few
years....a poorer grade will be understood to be their doing, and their
responsibility and not just because I'm generous or mean!

The last exercise to emphasize this left brain presence comes by turning up
the heat. Their own egos get off a bit easy with blindly drawing only their
hands. Now, I have them sit across from a fellow student, and they blind
contour line draw their partner. The partner's take turns. One
draws....the other watches the drawer's eyes to count how many times that
person looks down. You could have some prizes at this point to give out to
those with "0" times reported. Then, they switch turns.

Adding the conscientiousness of insulting their partner by a poor drawing
increases the volume of the left brain's voice, its fears...etc., however,
it always brings mayhem, laughter...and in the midst of it, I get to observe
those number of students that very early on will show signs of being able to
surrender to the right brain. Those will be your more naturally gifted,
more artistically motivated gems!

But once again, this exercise establishes why you will insist on the more
amiable working environment and necessary classroom management. A way of
winning the kids over. Enjoy.....!!!!

Larry Seiler