Sunday, October 2, 2011

the art of the art lesson

Teaching, in general, has always been an enormous source of stress in my life. Any time attention is going to be focused on me I worry myself to extremes. I have been an Elementary Art teacher going on six years and that stress never seems to dwindle. I do teach drawing, one on one (and hopefully small groups very soon), to willing young folks interested in learning more than can be gained from our public school art classrooms. My overall focus has been to make their time with me both unique and informative. I listed "unique" first because it absolutely should be different. I should be teaching differently, choosing different words and phrases and have them draw in different ways. All these differences need to have purpose though. It should not be like a collection of oddities at the end of the some early 1900's circus midway. It should be new ways of seeing, thinking and experiencing in order to open the mind and entice more learning. Most young folks who want to draw for an extra 2 hours after school or on weekends are looking for ways to improve. The goal is that simple. Improve.

Above (and below) is a lesson that anyone interested in improving their drawing skills should attempt every so often. Drawing everyday objects upside down. To add and an extra twist, I had my student draw something that was very small, very large on the paper. It forces the mind to focus on the line angles and spaces between them and shuts down memory and imagination. This is obviously a straight forward rendering-skills lesson. Gauging the scale and proportions of objects and their parts is something that needs regular attention. Below is my attempt at enlarging a quarter to dinner plate size. I sometimes draw with my students so they see that it is possible to complete my request and that I also make many mistakes on the way.

This was to be about a 30 minute experience. You were allowed to flip your work and check on your progress but you could not draw again until your paper was inverted back to upside down. This was made much more difficult due to the enormous scaling up of the tiny little quarter (the extra twist!!!).

Danny Gregory is a terrific artist/designer/illustrator/author/etc.etc. who reminded me of this technique. It is great to see someone so accomplished still building and rebuilding their already superb skills. If you just like watching a beautifully filmed artist draw for a bit while some upbeat tunes are overdubbed, check out Mr. Gregory doing his thing here

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