1.Young children learn new verbal language more easily than older children. The same is true of learning a new visual language.
2. Young children are learning so many new things successfully, they believe you when you tell them they can do it.
3.They don’t notice all the discrepancies between what they drew and what they see, so they feel successful. Feeling successful makes them willing to keep trying. Trying and practice improve their skills.
By 4 th grade it is harder to begin teaching students to draw from observation. And waiting until high school meets with a lot of apathy, anxiety and resistance.
1.They have experienced failure. So they are fearful they can’t do it. 2.They notice what they drew is not what they see, reinforcing their belief they can’t draw. 3.They don’t want to try something new and fail in front of their peers.
I’ve taught students from age 5 to 75 to draw using the following strategy.
I start with the easiest type of model. Which is, as most of you know….
They are distinctive and easily recognized. When others recognize the image, the artist feels successful and gains confidence. That reduces fear, anxiety and apathy.
What else can reduce fear, anxiety and apathy? Choice in subject matter – reduces opportunities for students to compare skill levels and decide they are no good at art. Creation of a composition – A good composition makes an attractive picture so a weak image is less noticeable.
Don’t draw better than your average student when demonstrating. (unless, perhaps in Art II, III and IV!) Make mistakes when demonstrating so you also can model how to correct mistakes or use them creatively.
When drawing faces, always lead students to identify what they need to observe before letting them start to draw.
People often make mistakes judging the distance between things. They think the eyes are wrong when the problem actually is the nose is too long.
This was the first time this middle school girl tried to draw anything. She was very upset with the eyes, but the problem actually is the too-long nose.
I don’t let students trace anything but their own work. Tracing templates and other people’s work teaches students negative things: You can’t draw. Your efforts are not good enough. You can’t learn to draw.
But tracing and repositioning parts of their own drawings saves people of all ages a lot of frustration. It also helps them learn to draw because they see they are not “all wrong”.
Unlike the “proportions of the face” which starts with the outside shape and uses a formula to fill in the features, comparing size, shape and position, works from the inside to the outside, creates a means of measurement allows analysis of the small differences that make each of us unique. and helps people learn to “see”.
The last two slides give info on criteria that help students create pleasing compositions so less skillfully drawn images can make a very attractive picture.
The following are criteria I set for composition, since my students can use only an image of one object in a photo and have to make up the rest of the composition. These criteria pose problems for students to solve, each in their own ways. I used them in almost every assignment. They also help students create unity, balance, emphasis, value structure, rhythm and movement.
Overlap Let things go off the edge of the paper Don’t line things up or stack REPEAT things (shapes, values, patterns, colors, etc.) in different amounts, in different parts of the page. Change them a little so it is not boring. Repeat in Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear amounts. Don’t divide the page in half diagonally, vertically or horizontally. - Cross the mid-line. Group objects.