I noticed a big jump in people visiting my flickr site after I posted about doing "before" and "after" drawings. I thought I would add a note to those pictures here.
The drawings (and in this case it was of scissors, but I did it for all of the work, i.e. portraits, landscapes, etc), were done in this way. I would tell students in the beginning art class that I am going to teach them how to draw. We would have by this point done exercises in line and basic shapes, all pretty standard, and all of which should have been covered in their elementary and junior high experiences. I know some of you get high school students that do not have prior art experience. My district had a full art program from pre K-12. So, I would say to them, you all have used scissors. I want you to give me your best drawing from memory on what scissors look like. No pictures, no scissors, no computer, nothing, just from memory. I would have no further discussion about the scissors at this point. I ask them all to work on it all period, and then to write the word "before" on top and to sign the work. I then take the work and file it in a drawer or file cabinet and they don't look at it again.
The next day when they arrive there will be a pair of scissors on a white piece of paper at their seat. They were told to look at the scissors and remembering breaking up the positive and negative spaces into basic shapes, to now draw lightly the scissors. I would be around to each student to "talk" to them about their drawing. I told them that drawing is ALL about a conversation in your head. "Is this a triangle, where is this angle, how long is that blade, is that an oval or circle in the handles". So I went around one student at a time all period for the next two days with a black piece of cloth in my hand. I am pretty quick visually so I can see what is "wrong" with a student's work as I approach their seat. I would put the black piece of cloth over their drawing and ask those questions, particularly zeroing in on the "mistake". For example I might ask "is that a circle or oval in the handle?" Then the kid usually looks at me like I have a third eye and says "Hass, that's an oval", at which point I whip off the black piece of cloth like a magician and say "then why did you draw a circle?" The big aha moment. Works every time. And then I go around to each kid and do that, and maybe multiple times. There is definitely NO SHADING until the form is complete. They will hear me say, "yes, those look like scissors, but I want you to draw THOSE scissors, not any scissors". This is their first drawing in the class, and as you can tell most are successful. We then do a value scale on a sheet of paper on which I have xeroxed a row of 10 boxes, that they essentially fill in from white to black in 10 steps. Then, and only then can they do a value rendering on the drawing. They are told that they must use all 10 values in their drawing (and this is how we did the roses, also on flickr.com, they did the drawing in pencil and then painted RIGHT ON TOP of the drawing that was already in values..that was an assignment on using complements and white for value painting). So, they isolate the white areas in the mind and the black areas in their mind and work from there. Again, I go around with my black piece of cloth and repeat pointing out areas that they have missed, or if the value isn't quite right.
Then after the work is done, they right after on the drawing. This teaches them (IMHO) that what we are doing are milestones in drawing, not necessarily finished masterpieces. They LOVE comparing their befores and afters and for them that is their TEST in art. They love critiquing their own work, and others because they now have the vocabulary and skills to do so.