Life drawing in class.
Posted on October 3, 2012
We have been doing some life drawing in class over the last week. I have been pleasantly surprised about how motivated my students have been to improve their drawing abilities. My classes are 120 minutes long every second day. I started out by showing the the students the works of artists like Tiepolo, Ingres and Rembrandt and describing how each of these artists use line to show different aspects of three-dimensional reality. It was helpful to show my students places where the artists had used lines which didn’t work out correctly and the artists simply went on to make more lines until they got it desired results. Talking to students about how to use different types of line such as weighted, broken and massed contour lines to construct a figure is a difficult conversation. Many of my students have done very little drawing and simply don’t have the art based vocabulary to talk about art work. It is the same during the drawing classes itself. When some of my students feel distress they revert back to simple contour outlining drawings which really don’t get them anywhere in terms of the figure drawing we are trying to achieve.
Over the last three classes I have noticed that my kids who are very proficient in drawing are in heaven- fully engaged, working hard, risk taking, and puzzling out the problems they are encountering. My kids who are new to drawing, or who are simply low in fine motor control are also fully engaged and are laughing their way through the classes. At the same time they getting they better and risking making a, for lack of a better term, bad drawing in the pursuit of progress.
However, it is my kids which are in the middle that are having the most problems. What I see is that they are having trouble pushing through what they have come to see as their ‘best’. A level of drawing that they worked at to get to and that met their elementary teachers expectations of what drawing should but has stagnated over their high school career (This is by know means a criticism of elementary teachers who teach every subject- in my district the Art specialist was phased out years ago).
For these students I spend much time talking about and showing the works of Rembrandt- Oh I love that guy! I hope I can easy my students self consciousness and anxiety around their drawing. So loose and unabashed of his scribbles- his calligraphic mark making… We can all learn so much from him.
Keep up the good work class.