>I would love to hear some ideas on how you each teach
>drawing. . . .
For younger children in Kindergarten through second grade, I find that it helps them build confidence if I first ask them to point with their finger and contour draw in the air while following my finger that slowly moves along the edge of the object being observed. For variation they can also pretend draw by pointing the tips of their noses along the edge of the object. My finger moves along the object edge at the speed of a crawling ant. Once they all get the idea, I no longer have to move my finger along the edge for them. I also use the air drawing introduction for older children who do not have much prior experience in observation drawing.
We then draw on paper. We first draw a series of practice edge lines -- not the whole object. This is done with a blinder on the pencil just above the hand so the the drawing paper is hidden during the making of practice lines. A blinder is a manila folder card with a hole in the middle for the pencil. With younger kids I call it our Handy Learning to Draw Helper.
The subject should be something they have never drawn before so they do not have a memorized schema for it. Once they have practiced all the edge lines and cross contour lines, you know that they have looked at the object carefully, and they have noticed that it is easier than they thought to draw all the separate parts of it. They will now have confidence to practice the whole thing.
I suggest that they do the whole thing without the helper (blinder) but never look at the paper while the pencil is in motion---just look down when it is time to start a new line. I keep reminding them of this. When they make a mistake, they are not to erase it, but they may draw extra lines until they get it right. Only after the whole drawing is done, they may erase the mistakes and keep their best lines. They make two or three of these drawings and they have to decide which on to keep and which one to toss.
In my opinion, if these secrets of learning to see better are shared in grade one we would avoid many issues of about fear of drawing as children get older. They realize that drawing is not a talent, but a practiced skill that can be mastered by those who take the time to practice.
Learning to draw from observation is one of three good sources of content. Drawing is also from the student's imagination and from the students' memories and experiences. Working to integrate the learning from all three types of drawing helps their mind learn to synthesize their skills, knowledge, and emotional lives. Each mode of learning should enrich the other. This is more apt to happen when we make a practice of reviewing and encouraging our students to remember what they learned from one type of lesson when we teach another type of lesson. They need to learn that what they learn on one day also can make the following day more successful. When they make a discovery on one day, we need to celebrate with them that this new discovery will be very useful the next time they draw---even if the next drawing is a memory or from their imagination. Transfer of learning and synthesis of knowledge is a habit of thinking learned by experience and we are the coaches that can ge
t it to happen.
Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.
NOTICE: This message is copyright, Marvin Bartel, 2007. It is intended only for the original recipient or user group and may not be forwarded or copied without permission.