Wednesday, 23 November 2011

On teaching art: pre-workshop views

How much 'learning to draw' do I want to do with Tiger?  This question has been on my mind quite a lot lately.  Thinking out loud often helps to untangle the problem, so bear with me while I try to resolve this.

This year, I have made a conscious effort to devote time in Tiger's curriculum to art, specifically in the area of artist study.  So far we have made good progress by combining picture study, field trips and hands-on activities to learn about the styles of each artist.  The sessions have been fun, and have increased our exposure to different artistic styles and materials.

The trouble is, I am not entirely happy with the quality of the output produced in those sessions.  I am wondering whether setting aside time to teach Tiger the fundamentals of drawing will help him produce higher quality pieces?

I belong to the School of Realism, or Representational Art.  I admire skilful draughtsmanship; the Old Masters are my heroes.  I can go as far as Expressionism and Surrealism, but Abstract Art is not my cup of tea.  I don't accept people just splashing paint everywhere and calling themselves 'artists', or displaying rotting food with maggots and calling that 'modern art'.  I have a lot more respect for art work that shows skill, thought, and meaning.

That's just me, and what I expect of my own creative pieces.  That's why I put myself through the rigour of Life Drawing classes and workshops.

However, I am not sure whether it is appropriate or necessary to introduce actual drawing lessons to Tiger at this stage, even though I am sure that his art work will improve tremendously with better drawing skills.

The reason for my hesistation is that Tiger is always happy with his final output.  If he were not happy with any aspect of work, he corrects it before it is completed.  While I uphold high quality work, I also believe it is very important for the artist to be happy with his own work.  Being happy and confident about his own work is crucial for him to enjoy the creative process and to want to do more.  Everytime I feel like commenting on his work, I remember how Van Gogh's work never received any recognition during his lifetime.  While I am not comparing Tiger to Van Gogh in any way, I am conscious of not putting his creative efforts down based on my personal preference for a different artistic style.

Also, I did not start drawing until about 3 years ago.  That was because I was constantly told, as a child, to draw or paint in a certain way so as to reproduce the art work in the 'textbooks'.  That killed all enjoyment of the creative process for me for a very long time, so I try not to do that to my son.

Up to now, Tiger has been doodling happily at different times of the day, as and when he feels like it.  I don't want to be a kill-joy.  At the present moment, it is more important that Tiger freely expresses himself in art than to draw like Michelangelo.  If he wants to learn to draw realistically, he will let me know.

There.  I am going to put my copy of Drawing with Children away now.

Incidentally, I will be attending an creativity workshop for art teachers in a few days.  The goals of this workshop are:
  • To explore how drawing can encourage more varied and flexible modes of thinking
  • To widen perceptions about what creativity involves
  • To use drawing as a key to developing creativity across the curriculum
  • To enable drawing to be taught more confidently and creatively
I expect my views on creativity and teaching art will be informed/influenced/shaped, or even challenged, by attending this workshop.

1 comment:

  1. I struggled with this a bit with my youngest daughter, not too long ago. She self-identifies as an artist and draws all the time. My two girls and I went through the book you mentioned, Drawing with Children, together. My thought was that we could all gain some skills and apply what we learned to our nature journals, and other drawing. My older daughter was more into doing the activities, and my younger daughter participated as she wanted. I believe she gained some things from it, but she still stuck with her own style.


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