We understand that good teachers figure out how to
THE HARD STUFF EASIER, AND THE EASY STUFF HARDER. It
can also be stated as, "Reduce frustrations and increase challenges." In
most cases, where the brain has learned the wrong way to do something,
it works best to do both things at the same time. MAKE
THE WRONG WAY HARDER AND THE RIGHT WAY EASIER. When assigning
drawing from observation, we do things to make it harder for the left brain
and easier for the right brain.
TRICKS TO MAKE IT Easy
FOR THE RIGHT BRAIN
2.Make it easy by limiting this to a short time. I use no more than five or ten minutes at the start of every period for this kind of practice, but do it before every art lesson or every day so it becomes habitual like a SHORT PRACTICE RITUAL or "warm up drill" for art class.
3.Make it easy by asking students to FIRST DRAW IT IN THE AIR while looking directly at it - not drawing on the paper. Let them follow the wire or edge very slowly in one direction and practice in the air again in the other direction. Watch that they move slowly and watch that they see the kinks and bends as they go.
4.As the teacher, make it easy by going over to the object and USING YOUR FINGER to SLOWLY follow the line to show the deliberate slowness you need in order to see every part.
5.Make it easy by NOT DOING A TEACHER DRAWING that students can see. The left brain tries to memorize a teacher's drawing. It has learned to mimic the teacher in order to please the teacher. The student's own drawing will be inferior and discouraging. Seeing an expert drawing discourages the fragile right brain.
TO MAKE IT Hard
FOR THE LEFT BRAIN
2. Place a BLINDER on the pencil. A blinder is a huge card like a file folder with a hole in the middle. Place it on the drawing pencil above the drawing hand. When the left brain is tries to create its thing on the paper it wants to see the paper in order to make sure you are following its pattern. Of course it can draw familiar stuff without looking at either the paper or the objects, so the blinder works best when combined with things for which no previous simple image (schema) (pattern) is stored in the brain.
3. Be sure students are sitting so they are NOT TEMPTED TO COPY another student's drawing. Copy work is a favorite way for the left brain to acquire those cliché ways and retard the right brain's development. "How to Draw" books have the same numbing effect on the brain.
4. Do not require sessions that are too lengthy (especially at first). Honest right brain work is hard work and fatigue can interfere with serious effort. Try it. You will see that you can feel a slight head pain if you really work to observe a new thing and draw it without looking at the paper.
5. When drawing a shape such as the edge of a leaf, an inverted shoe, or a person, warn students not to expect the beginning and end of the outline line to match on the paper, but simply expect the line itself to have the look of the actual edges. I allow them to "fix" the meeting point with an eraser if it bothers them.
Here is a link with several short practice ideas
IT FUN BY MAKING IT A GAME
1. Players are in a circle around a table. a piece of copper or aluminum wire that is easy to bend is placed in block of wood. Each player adds one bend to the wire, but no subject matter is allowed. Keep it abstract, but interesting and unpredictable.
2. All players make a blind contour drawing of the wire. Each is working with a blinder on the pencil so no one sees their paper. Each player is at a different position, so each drawing is different. This part develops observation ability.
3. Each drawing is passed to the next person in the circle (to the right).
4. Each player then studies the received drawing, turning if in all directions looking for imaginary ideas.
5. Each player adds parts to the observed line drawing that was made by the person on their left. Subject matter is added. It can be real, fantastic, humorous, etc., but not a cliche. This part develops the imagination.
6. Pass the drawings to next person. This person writes a title
or a story about the picture. This part also develops the imagination.
In Japan they have included observation drawing along with drawing from
memory and from the imagination beginning in kindergarten. Schools
have gardens used as inspiration, they take outings, and so on. They
have a national curriculum where the art instruction is very important
and quite consistent. In the first three grades they spend about 3 hours
per week on art. I doubt that they suffer from the crisis of confidence
in grades three and four as much as our children do. We know they
also do well in math and academics when they get to high school.
I think there are connections.
This page shows observatin drawing outings and sketches
from Ukita Elementary, grades 1 to 6.
Credits: This lesson was inspired by a similar lesson developed and taught by Goshen College art students, Patty Brown, Marlea Hershberger, Crystal Kempher, and Tiffany Wyse. We appreciate the cooperation of teachers, administration and especially the students of St. John's Catholic School, Goshen, IN, for their cooperation.