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Lesson Plans

Re: about copying

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Sandra Hildreth (shildret)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 00:33:44 -0400

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Several people have expressed diverse opinions about "copying" in art.
Quite a few years ago there was an excellent article in one of the Art
Ed periodicals about research on "copying". It has forever altered my
opinions about using "copying" as an instructional tool. How do we all
learn new skills? Imagine someone desiring to learn how to ride a horse
or more challenging - to go over jumps on a horse in a show ring. They
would observe others, especially professionals, maybe read training
manuals, get advice from a trainer, start out on little jumps, and
practice, etc. In other words, before trying something totally new out,
most of us would get some kind of advance preparation or training. At
least a visual experience of what this "new" thing/activity should look
like. So my thinking about art is, if I want my students to develop or
improve their drawing and shading skills - they deserve the chance to
see other artists work, and to practice. I might pass out reproductions
of Durer's "praying hands" and let students copy a thumb or finger -
encouraging them to capture Durer's hatching techniques. Then I might
have them pose their own non-drawing hand and do a rendering of it, and
apply linear hatching in Durer's manner. I will not accept anything
copied as an art assignment (for a grade, to go into the student's
portfolio), but I frequently use "copying" as a practice activity.
Sandra Hildreth
C.L.A.S.S. (Cultural Literacy through Art & Social Studies)
Art 7-12, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617

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